The Rescue Plan

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The Rescue Plan

When you plan a day hike, an overnight backpacking trip, a weekend hunting trip, or an extended stay in the wilderness, you prepare for the contingencies.  You have a plan for finding shelter, a plan for inclement weather.  A plan for procuring water and food, and for first aid.

But did you remember to include a rescue plan?

The steps below will help you build a rescue plan just in case a catastrophic event should prevent you from getting back on your own.

Before you leave on your trip, find a trusted partner and tell them your plans.  Tell them when you expect to return and give them a “drop dead” time at which, if you have not returned or called them, they should initiate your rescue plan.

Things to tell them:

  • The area in which you plan to operate
  • When you plan to return
  • Who they should call if you are not back by your drop dead time.


Leave explicit instructions for them

  •  When they should call for assistance
  • Who to call if they don’t hear from you.  Make sure you provide phone numbers for the appropriate agency such as the Park Police or a Ranger station.
  • What to tell the rescue unit:
    • Where you plan to operate
    • When you were supposed to return
    • Your experience level
    • Type of equipment you have with you (tent?  ATV?)
    • Signaling devices you have with you? (smoke?  flare?  signal mirror?  strobe light?)
    • Your name, age, and blood type
    • Medical conditions, allergies, and any medications you are taking

If you fill out a rescue plan communications card for them (like the example
 below), it will make it easier for them to pass on all the critical information to the rescue unit.

Additional Considerations

Don’t forget to have a signal plan so you can get the attention of a rescue party.

Think about how you might be extracted should you become incapacitated.  Will you be near vehicle-accessible roads or ATV-accessible trails?  If not, think about what is necessary for an air evac.  If you or someone in your party needed to be evacuated by helicopter, is there an open space, free of obstacles, where a helicopter can land?  Do you have a way of signaling the helicopter? 

A rescue plan could be critical to your survival.  Feel free to print the template below, or build your own.  As always, our goal is to provide a little bit of education and a little bit of inspiration.  Like us on Facebook for the latest news and information!