Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Survival Smarts

I spent most of the last weekend at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park for the Malaysian Nature Society's Strategic Plan Workshop for Council Members and Secretariat staff.

Among our team-building activities are the Marshmallow Challenge and a Survivalist Simulation Test. Of the latter, only 3 out of 44 participants passed the test, and only 1 team out of 4 passed it. I passed the test as an individual, and although the rest of my team did not pass it, as a team, our collective decision received the best score and we managed to pass the test.

How do you think you will fare in the Survival Simulation Test? Look at the scenario below and try to take up the challenge without using cheat sheets or looking up external websites for the scoring system!

Borneo Survival Scenario

"You have just survived the crash of a small plane. You were travelling from Pontianak when your plane came down on the steep slopes of a mountain near the Kalimantan and Sarawak border. Both pilots died in the crash. It is January, and you are in the centre of Borneo. The temperature is 30 degrees Celsius by day and due to wind chill and humidity, effectively 10 degrees or less at night. The jungle around the mountain is high ridge and ravine with many streams. You remember flying over a Kayan longhouse about 15 minutes previously. Your group of survivors managed to salvage the following items:
- A bag of fine steel wool
- A parang
- A loaded 9mm automatic pistol
- A tin of ghee (clarified butter)
- Newspapers
- Empty cigarette lighter
- Extra shirt and trousers for each survivor
- A 7m x 7m piece of heavy-duty plastic sheeting
- A 1:100,000 aviation map of Borneo laminated in plastic.
- One litre of Napoleon brandy VSOP
- A compass
- Family-size chocolate bars (one per person)

Choose the 5 most important items for your survival. The other items will then no longer be available to you. Choose 5 items first for yourself and then in consultation with the group. You must come to agreement as a group."

Which 5 items would you choose from the list above, and why?

Once I begin receiving responses to the test, I will post the scoring system and the answers to the test in the comments section below!

Until then, Happy Thaipusam and enjoy the Weekly Roundup!

Weekly Roundup, In Pictures

Donating blood at the National Blood Bank on 11th January. I am grateful for my good health and hope to remain eligible for blood donation for many more years to come.

First Earthquake (8 scoops of ice cream with 8 different toppings. Half-price on Tuesdays!) of the Year at Swensens with my buddies, Lili and Yanty.

Cuddling 2 of the new feline arrivals at the SPCA. The kittens are currently being fostered at home by my friend Amelie until the tiny fuzzies are strong enough to be put up for adoption.

One of the dogs at the Maternity Kennels not looking too happy at having to have a bath. I managed to bathe and tickwash all the Maternity Kennel dogs that afternoon.

Shelter dogs Lulu and Sherry came out to play in the front area after I had completed washing and disinfecting the shelter in the evening.

TeckWyn and Kanitha's team doing the Marshmallow Challenge during the Strategic Plan Workshop.

My team and our freestanding marshmallow-and-spaghetti sculpture! I wasn't looking at the camera because the marshmallow suddenly LEANED over to one side!

The MNS Strategic Plan Workshop participants decide to go on a short trail walk before dinner.

View of the herons and egrets from the 4th storey of the watchtower at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park.


Unknown said...

WOW! you're amazing! Am not surprised you aced the survival test. Congrates to you and your team. This must be the umpteenth time you've donated blood. Salute!You've already started the year with a bang:)) BTw, how many compartments are in your tum - 8 is a big number(ice creams)!!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Hi there, Keats! Thanks for your support! I love camping and trekking, and being prepared and staying safe goes a long way in making each outing an enjoyable one. As for blood donation, my donor booklet is in tatters by now and the Blood Bank has promised to replace my 15-year-old booklet! 8 scoops of ice cream isn't too much -- I am pretty sure I can handle 12!

hobbit1964 said...

I love these quizzes, but I will not answer this one. Not fair right? We both know it is too much like the questions I answer every Categorisation test.
Too bad about both pilots though...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Can cats skip the survival test? Yennyway, we love the look of that nature park. Mama said the last time she was there was like 20 years ago. purrrr....meow!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Heya Major,
I agree! It wouldn't be fair to the others at all if you were to do the challenge! It's not a challenge for you at all, is it?

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-In-Sydney,

Do come visit the Park if you have the time! You will love it! Lots of BIG, BIG BIRDS for you to chase!

louis said...


You are savvy in physical survival skills, as demonstrated in this blog. But, you are as adept in emotional survival skills, as demonstrated in your messages of sympathy to me. You have helped me deal with my loss. Your thought of a fruitbearing tree as a memorial to my wife was incredibly beautiful and generous.

I cannot thank you enough.

Pat said...

I just love reading about all your adventures every week - but I can't get my mind off the earthquake! Sigh

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Louis,

I am grateful that my email was able to offer you some comfort in your time of grief. I imagine Elena as someone nurturing, hospitable and big-hearted -- and so a fruiting tree would be the perfect way to remember her and all that she stood for. I've found a place to plant the tree, now I need to get a healthy rambutan sapling. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Pat,

Which Tues will you be in town? Earthquake's on me! The ice-cream didn't even have the chance to melt. I finished mine before my friends were even halfway through theirs. I had Butterscotch, Macadamia, Mango, Choc Mint, Sticky Chewy Chocolate, Strawberry, Old Fashioned Vanilla and Blackforest. I wonder what other 8 flavours I could try out when I go there with you next.

Pat said...

Oh wail!!!!!! You're killing me here!!!! Hahahahah!!!


Dear CO,

The survival training looks interesting. Reminds me of Man vs Wild ....

~CovertOperations78~ said...


Scoring system:


1. Cigarette lighter (without fluid)
The gravest danger facing the group is exposure to cold. The greatest need is for a source of warmth and the second greatest need is for signaling devices. This makes building a fire the first order of business. Without matches, something is needed to produce sparks, and even without fluid, a cigarette lighter can do that.

2. Steel wool
To make a fire, the survivors need a means of catching he sparks made by the cigarette lighter. This is the best substance for catching a spark and supporting a flame, even if the steel wool is a little wet.

3. Extra shirt and pants for each survivor
Besides adding warmth to the body, clothes can also be used for shelter, signaling, bedding, bandages, string (when unraveled), and fuel for the fire.

4. Can of ghee
This has many uses. A mirror-like signaling device can be made from the lid. After shining the lid with steel wool, it will reflect sunlight and generate 5 to 7 million candlepower. This is bright enough to be seen beyond the horizon. While this could be limited somewhat by the trees, a member of the
group could climb a tree and use the mirrored lid to signal search planes. If they had no other means of signaling than this, they would have a better than 80% chance of being rescued within the first day.
There are other uses for this item. It can be rubbed on exposed skin for protection against the cold. When melted into an oil, the shortening is helpful as fuel. When soaked into a piece of cloth, melted butter will act like a candle. The empty can is useful for boiling water in. Water is important because dehydration will affect decision-making. The can is also useful as a cup.

5. 7m x 7m plastic sheet.
The cold makes shelter necessary, and plastic sheet would protect against wind and rain. Spread on a frame made of trees, it could be used as a tent or a wind screen. It might also be used as a ground cover to keep the survivors dry. It’s shape, when contrasted with the surrounding terrain, makes it a signaling device.

6. A parang
Survivors need a constant supply of wood in order to maintain the fire. The parang could be used for this as well as for clearing a sheltered campsite, cutting tree branches for ground insulation, and constructing a frame for the canvas tent.

(... To be continued)

~CovertOperations78~ said...

(Continued from previous comment)

7. Family size chocolate bars (one per person)
Chocolate will provide some food energy. Since it contains mostly carbohydrates, it supplies the energy without making digestive demands on the body.

8. Newspapers (one per person)
These are useful in starting a fire. They can also be used as insulation under clothing when rolled up and placed around a person’s arms and legs. A newspaper can also be used as a verbal signaling device when rolled up in a megaphone-shape. It could also provide reading material for recreation.

9. Loaded pistol
The pistol provides a sound-signaling device. (The international distress signal is 3 shots fired in rapid succession). There have been numerous cases of survivors going undetected because they were too weak to make a loud enough noise to attract attention. The butt of the pistol could be used as a
hammer, and the powder from the shells will assist in fire building. By placing a small bit of cloth in a cartridge emptied of its bullet, one can start a fire by firing the gun at dry wood on the ground. The pistol also has some serious disadvantages. Anger, frustration, impatience, irritability, and lapses of rationality may increase as the group awaits rescue. The availability of a lethal weapon is a danger to the group under these conditions. Although a pistol could be used in hunting, it would take an expert marksman to kill an animal with it. Then the animal would have to be transported to the crash site, which could prove difficult to impossible depending on its size.

10. Bottle of brandy
The only uses of brandy are as an aid in fire building and as a fuel for a torch (made by soaking a piece of clothing in the brandy and attaching it to a tree branch). The empty bottle could be used for storing water. The danger of brandy is that someone might drink it, thinking it would bring warmth. Alcohol takes on the temperature it is exposed to, and a drink of minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit whiskey would freeze a person’s esophagus and stomach. Alcohol also dilates the blood vessels in the skin, resulting in chilled blood belong carried back to the heart, resulting in a rapid loss of body heat. Thus, a drunk person is more likely to get hypothermia than a sober person is.

11. Compass
Because a compass might encourage someone to try to walk to the nearest town, it is a dangerous item. It’s only redeeming feature is that it could be used as a reflector of sunlight (due to its glass top).

12. Laminated aviation map
This is also among the least desirable of the items because it will encourage individuals to try to walk to the nearest town. It’s only useful feature is as a ground cover to keep someone dry.

How to score:

Each team should list its top 5 choices in order prior to seeing the answer sheet. To award points, look at the ranking numbers on this answer sheet. Award points to each team’s top choices according to the numbers here. For example, the map would earn 12 points, while the steel wool would earn 2
points. Lowest score wins (and survives).

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Abang Rizal,

Man Vs. Wild is a lot of bosh. It's entertainment. Don't take it for anything more than that. Any wilderness survival trainer or army commando can rip holes in all his 'advice'. Bear Grylls has no credibility left in the UK.