Survive 2-1/2 days with what you have in your pockets. Ready, go!

So friends have asked me if I have changed what I carry with me since this whole Haiti earthquake experience. Going from a relatively normal day (albeit in a foreign land) to being trapped in extreme circumstances in a matter of seconds certainly makes me think about how prepared I am, at any moment, for an emergency.

Before I tell what I carry with me now, it helps to look at what I had with me at the time, and how each item was helpful as I struggled to survive until I was rescued.

What I had in my pockets (and on my person in general) when the earthquake struck:

  • Digital SLR camera (Nikon D40x) hanging around my neck – this saved my life, and got pretty thrashed in the process.
  • iPhone w/ battery extender – helped in several ways, including the first-aid app that I consulted when I treated my wounds (will tell more in a later post)
  • Earbuds – used with my iPhone when I indulged battery power to listen to my Songs from a Broken Elevator
  • Mini Moleskine journal – I was grateful for the opportunity to write notes to my family that they would find after my death
  • 3 pens – I was glad I had three, as I lost one and another ran out of ink
  • Trident chicklet-style gum – you’ll have to read the book to see how I used that
  • Passport pouch (the kind you strap around your body and tuck in your pants) which held:
    • Passport, immunization card – having these on my body helped when I was whisked off to the embassy after my rescue and then medevacked to Miami
    • Driver’s license, most important credit cards, cash – it was just nice not to have to replace these when I got back home
    • Hotel Montana key card (I now carry it with me in my wallet – another reminder of my experience)
  • Clothes
    • Outer shirt – used to wrap my leg wound. Wish I had a knife so I could have cut it in pieces/strips.
    • T-shirt – kept on, used (once) to catch and filter my urine for drinking
    • Shoes – lost the left one in spot where my leg was pinned at first. Kept the right one. Anyone want to buy a single Nike running shoe?
    • Socks – left sock quickly filled with blood from leg and foot cuts. Used right sock to stop bleeding on head.
    • Pants (they didn’t make it back with me)
    • Belt – tried to use this to tighten my shirt around my leg wound, but it kept slipping. Used a piece of wire from the elevator instead.
    • Underwear – glad to have it, especially when medics cut away my pants (a moment caught so nicely by French news team for international consumption). I lived out that maxim that moms used to tell their kids – always wear clean, stylish underwear, in case you end up in an emergency. Or on international TV/viral video.
  • Of course, then there’s the less tangible stuff – my mind, my emotions, my will to live. And most important of all, spiritual assets: memory of Scripture and songs, my relationship and access to God, status as a child of God, his grace and love towards me, his presence with me in my time of trial, and his protection and deliverance. This sounds like fodder for another post – stay tuned.

Think about what you have on you, in your pockets, right now. Could you survive 2-1/2 days with injuries, in the dark, with what you have? Is survival really dependent on the tools we have, or on some other factor(s)?

Future post: What I wish I had (including stuff from my backpack, which was under rubble just 25 feet away), and what I carry with me now.