The one item that must be addressed first is not a priority in a Wilderness Survival Situation.
It is however, the one thing that can stack the odds of rescue so greatly in your favor. It is something that should always be done every time you go on a hike, backpacking trip, naturalist tour or any time you venture into the wilderness.
-TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHEN YOU PLAN TO RETURN
First of all, this will send up a red flag if you are not back on time and have not contacted your “someone” to notify them of a plan change. Secondly, it gives Search and Rescue a place to start looking if you
do get into trouble. Consider it the “Holy Grail” of Wilderness Travel.
Now, on to HOPE:
Usually Hope is the first priority in a Wilderness Survival Situation.
It is sometimes referred to as a Positive Mental Attitude or “PMA” for short. Hope and PMA can be treated as the same thing or as two different things, however combined or separate, they are the priority you address first in a Survival situation.
Hope is the will to live, something inside that steps up your game, your fight and your ability to get through the situation.
Positive Mental Attitude is a thought process in which you are able to tell yourself and convince yourself that you will make it through the situation at hand. A positive mental attitude will aid in the ability to keep yourself calm and allow you to assess your situation.
This priority may have to be addressed quickly at first if there are other “life threatening” issues at hand such as a medical issue or a need for fast shelter setup. You may, however come back to this priority time and time again during your “Survival Event”.
Spending time learning and practicing things such as First Aid, Shelter, Signaling, Water Procurement and Navigation will greatly help assure a Positive Mental Attitude because you will have the knowledge, skills and confidence to get through the situation therefore your ability to survive is dynamically increased.
You may need to address a life threatening medical issue or rig up a tarp to get out of the elements so Hypothermia doesn’t become a threat. In this situation you may need to get through the priority of “Hope” quickly. A laminated photo of a family member, spouse, kids or dog may be just the item to give you the proper attitude to continue.
Once your situation is under your control and all “Life threatening” issues have been addressed, coming back to your first priority from time to time is a good idea. Looking at that special photo or even something spiritual like a NIV Shirt-Pocket New Testament
There are countless stories of people beating the odds just because of their POSITIVE ATTITUDE and their HOPE, so this is a vital priority to add to your survival toolkit.