Has it happened to you? Someone takes a fall, rolls an ankle, or suddenly gets very sick. The hazards of urban exploration can include everything from rusty nails to unseen hazardous gases. A little preparedness can prevent small accidents from becoming an unwanted odyssey of survival. Make sure others in your group have these skills too. After all, you might be the unconscious victim!
Before exploring, before someone in your group gets hurt, be prepared, and never, under any circumstance, travel alone.
Know basic First Aid.
If you explore, there is no excuse for not knowing first aid skills. Knowledge of the human body and basic first aid should be part of your core education. If it is not, check out online resources such as the Red Cross.
Have a simple first aid kit.
Keep it small. Bandaids, Neosporin, Advil, and Excedrin are a good place to start. When buying or building a first aid kit, be sure to match it to your abilities. A tracheostomy tube won’t do you any good if you have no idea how to use it. Carry gear that makes sense for you.
Know your hazards and be prepared for them.
What might you run into on your upcoming adventure? Unseen nails. Glass. Rusted rebar. Your Crocs, Chuck Taylors, or flip-flops are not up to this task. At the very least you’ll want to pull out those black leather boots you wear to metal concerts. If you can afford them, UEM recommends steel-toed boots with a steel shank. Long pants and a shirt really help too. Flashlights, utility knives or multi tools, a backpack with snacks and water, and hard hats are also on the list of things most commonly carried. You can never be too cautious.
This knowledge will get you prepared for the time leading up to an injury. But after an injury occurs, you need to reasses the situation. Is your co-explorer unable to move or breathe? Are they asking you to call 911?
Be able to clearly state your location.
Seems obvious but 911 dispatchers deal with this all the time. When arriving or entering a site, take note of cross streets and other landmarks. If you decide to call 911 stop thinking about your location as a secret you’re keeping and forget about any legal ramifications. You need help and you need it now. “We are in the old granary at the end of Carson Road, the gate is locked we jumped the fence. Please hurry!”
Here in Milwaukee if an emergency happens in a collapsed building, a sewer, storm drain, or other tunnel and you decide to call 911 you need to request the Heavy Urban Rescue Team (H.U.R.T). H.U.R.T responds to four areas of specialized rescue: confined space, trench, high/low angle rope rescues, and structural collapse. Without them, your first responders will not be able to enter and rescue anyone in a tunnel or collapsed building.
The Observant Calm mindset
Often the first thing people say is “don’t panic” but what does this really mean? We are all humans and when danger presents itself, a built-in system of reactions is there. How you direct and control these reactions can be the key to survival. Learn to respond rather than react. Objectively consider the dangers at hand. Assess your options. Select a course of action. Gather your confidence and execute the plan.
Hopefully, you will only utilize this information as a precaution. But in the case this knowledge has to be applied, keep calm, utilize your knowledge, and keep safety as priority number one.