Anderson Cooper 360

On January 7, 2011, I was included in a show about survival stories on Anderson Cooper 360. This has been one of my favorite media opportunities for Unshaken, as it was more lighthearted than some and I got to “meet” Anderson Cooper and Bear Grylls. I was disappointed that CNN did not choose to post the show online, but I did find a transcript (included below), and for those who want to see the video, I can send you a private link to the clip.


My segment:

COOPER: Welcome back to this 9:00 edition of 360.

Tonight, we’re hearing amazing stories of survival with Bear Grylls, some survivors are ordinary people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, who do whatever they have to do to stay alive, to get out.

Nearly a year ago, aide worker Dan Woolley was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, making a film about poverty when the quake struck. He found himself trapped beneath the rubble of the Hotel Montana, bleeding from his head and leg. Incredibly, he also used survival tactics that he picked watching Bear Grylls’ “Man Versus Wild,” tactics like drinking his own urine.

Dan would wait an excruciating 65 hours in the dark before help finally arrived.

Dan, you were trapped in the rubble of the Montana Hotel when it collapsed during the earthquake in Haiti last January. You write about it in a book, “Unshaken.” What was the moment like when the hotel collapsed?

DAN WOOLLEY, TRAPPED 65 HOURS IN HAITI EARTHQUAKE RUBBLE: Well, you know, it was the kind of thing that happens to you that you could never expect it and it was actually beautiful Caribbean afternoon. I’d just gotten back from filming with Compassion International, and just walking through, walking through the lobby and then, all of a sudden, explosive sounds and the lobby went from vibrant color to complete darkness. And within three seconds, the entire hotel had collapsed on top of them. COOPER: So, the hotel collapsed immediately during the — after the quake or during, it wasn’t sometime later?

WOOLLEY: Yes. Actually, I heard later that the earthquake lasted 35 seconds, but I only experienced the first couple seconds because the hotel started collapsing right in the first second.

COOPER: And did you — were you knocked out were you conscious through the whole thing?

WOOLLEY: As far as I know I was conscious through the whole thing. When I kind of came to my senses, I was still standing. I was in a crouched position. The ceiling actually was right at my head and my left leg was pinned by some of the rubble.

COOPER: But you were — but you were standing but your leg was pinned?

WOOLLEY: Yes, exactly.

COOPER: And how long did the ordeal — I mean, how long did you stay like that?

WOOLLEY: You know, at first, it was just chaos. I was just trying to figure out what just happened to me and, you know, what is my situation and then —

COOPER: Sorry, we’re looking at pictures that you actually took while you were stuck.

WOOLLEY: I did. While I was in complete darkness and so, I wondered at first if I was blind and, you know, Bear often talks about using the resources you have at hand and I realized I had my camera around my neck and so, in the darkness, I started flashing my camera around and when I still couldn’t see enough, I actually took some pictures with my camera and look at the back of the camera to see figure out, OK, what’s that that I just took a picture of.

COOPER: You reference Bear. You watched his show before?

WOOLLEY: Yes, actually. I have two boys, 7 and 4, and we’re big fans of the show, so we had actually watched the show a lot. So, you know, I was inspired during my ordeal.

COOPER: Bear, when you hear that, that’s got to be pretty cool starting out doing this you didn’t think people whose lives will be impacted very literally and saved by stuff you’ve done.

GRYLLS: Yes, it is. It’s really encouraging to hear. And, you know, I hear stories like Dan’s and I’m just so full of, you know, admiration. And, you know, he’s got the heart of a survivor.

But, you know, I spent lot of time kind of cold, wet and miserable in these jungles and think is anyone going to ever watch this stuff. So, for me, it’s really encouraging. So, it’s nice to hear Dan. But, your story’s amazing. COOPER: Dan, you had also an iPhone with you that you used. How did you use that?

WOOLLEY: I did. After I moved to a safer place from that initial spot, I moved to an elevator car and after that, I started looking at the wounds and I had a big gash from my knee to my ankle. And it was the worst wound I’d ever seen in my life. And I felt myself starting to go into shock and I was concerned about my ability to treat my wounds.

I’d survived an earthquake. I was determined to survive as long as I could, get back to my family and I didn’t want to die just because I didn’t know how to treat my wounds. So, I remembered I had my iPhone. There was no signal on it, but I had a first aid app pre-downloaded and had some information how to take care of excessive bleeding and also shock.

COOPER: And how long were you trapped for?

WOOLLEY: I was trapped for 65 hours, about two and a half days.

COOPER: And how did you stay hydrated? I mean, did you have water with you?

WOOLLEY: I didn’t have any water with me. Actually, one of the things specifically with Bear I remembered from one of his shows that he said you can die within three days from dehydration and, you know, in a survival situation, you just do whatever you have to do to stay alive. So, he had actually demonstrated — I think on the Will Ferrell show, he’d demonstrated drinking your own urine.

So, I kind of did the same way that I saw in the show, and that, in my mind, helped to extend the time frame for me.

COOPER: Was there — was there a moment you were like I’m not going to do this because it’s drinking my urine, or at that point, you’re just thinking, I’m thirsty and this is what I need to do?

WOOLLEY: You know what? It was easy decision because, you know, in my mind, I was going to do anything to get back to my family and so — so, you know, I’m thinking, wow, I need liquid. I need — I’m very dehydrated, liquid’s pouring out of me. I want to — you know, gosh, if I could use this. And I realized, gosh, I could catch it in my shirt, I could, you know, filter it a little bit. If that could extend my time frame, who cares about squeamishness? I’ll do whatever I have to do to.

COOPER: Well, you know, Dan, Bear talks about trying to remain calm. Was that an issue for you immediately after the earthquake? I mean, were you able to — were you panicked?

WOOLLEY: You know what? I never experienced panic. In the initial seconds of chaos, I probably had a little bit of that feeling but I found a calm kind of come over me and that’s where I think my faith, I think God intervened and gave me a sense of calm in those moments. And so, I really appreciate that because my mind kicked in to gear and said, all right, what do I do with this situation? And I was able to get myself to the elevator before seven minutes after the initial earthquake, 6.0 aftershock hit and would have killed me.

COOPER: And certainly, a lot of people lost their lives in the Montana. I was at the scene many times and it’s — it’s amazing that you were able to survive from that because it’s — when you actually see how it collapsed just stunning.

Bear, is there anything in the situation like that that you would recommend?

GRYLLS: Well, it’s really interesting hearing Dan speak and, you know, I have heard a few key words from him. One is faith and, you know, survival is so much of what’s going on inside your heart and your mind, and, you know, faith is such an important part of driving us on and wanting to get back to your family, as well.

You know, motivation is so key. You know, he talked about resources and thinking left field. That’s why he used the camera to take pictures and give him an idea of what was around him. He used his iPhone.

You know, if people think, what use is an iPhone? But it’s all about what’s around you. I have an app out that’s just launched, Bear Essentials with all the first aid and that and everything. Actually, it’s more than just an app. He had a first aid one on his phone. He used that. It could help him.

And then you hear him talk about prioritizing. And, you know, again, you have to conserve water. Put your squeamishness aside. If he has to drink pee and he’s hydrating enough and it can help him, he can do that. You know, he had a wound.

Again, if you don’t look after that prioritize that, you’re going to bleed to death. So, you know, I hear that and I think what a great kind of example of getting it right and, you know, all of our survival in life is about the decisions: do we go this way or do we that? And, you know, he just made a series of good decisions and those good decisions why he is with us today and amazing story.

COOPER: Yes. Dan, truly amazing. It’s good to talk to you, Dan. Dan Woolley, thanks very much.

WOOLLEY: Thanks.


  1. Karen Warren says:

    I’m an advocate for Compassion and just received your book in the mail. I started reading it this afternoon (Super Sunday 🙂 and didn’t stop until I finished. Thank you for sharing your story and your life honestly and wholeheartedly, Dan. Thank God for the miracle of your life, your marriage and the work that you do for His children.

  2. Carla Williams says:

    Dan, I just finished your book and was so moved by your story. Also, I appreciated your wife’s story and her honesty about her feelings and fears that you may not be alive.
    In January I was listening to Focus on the Family and heard both of you speaking about how it had changed your lives.
    It was very emotional for me to hear your story as I had been in a car accident on New Years Eve when the car hit ice and spun around three times before landing on a hillside upright. Neither of us were injured. No bruises, broken glass, no inflated airbags or gas tank exploding. After the initial shock wore off, I was totally aware that as we were spinning, I was praying out loud. Several days later I was sharing my story with my Christian ladies group who had come to my home. It was a time to let them know that I felt God’s hand on me by protecting me from any injury or death. I was in awe of His love for me like no other time in my life and that I knew He wasn’t finished with me yet.
    My days since have been blessed with more joy and happiness than I had known in a long time. I knew that I had to read your book to see how you put your story together. It has been recommended that I put my story into a testimony to be published. Right now, I am not sure I will do that.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share. There is no comparison between your story and mine. Only that we serve an awesome God.
    Blessings to you and your beautiful family during this blessed Easter season.