At 2:00AM on Aug. 12, 2000, then 83-year-old Tillie Tooter set out to pick up her at relatives at the Fort Lauderdale /Hollywood International Airport. She never arrived. Eventually her Granddaughter, Lori Simms and her boyfriend took a cab to Tillie’s apartment. When she was not there, fearing the worst, Simms reported her missing. Where she actually was, Simms could not have imagined in her wildest dreams. Tillie was hanging suspended, trapped in her car, in a clutch of trees above a mangrove swamp. Her car had careened over a divider, when it was struck from behind by a hit and run. Bruised and broken, there Tillie stayed, for three days, surviving on rainwater she gathered with a steering wheel cover she poked through the shattered windshield, and a few pieces of candy. Tillie’s story made headlines nationwide, and the feisty Florida Grandmother became a media darling appearing on “Today,” “Good Morning America,” and many other TV shows.
Inspiring tales of survival such as Tillie’s are not uncommon, often they are featured in books or are turned into major motion pictures. Such as the harrowing events surrounding the plane crash in the Andes in October 1972 and what the surviving members of the Uruguayan rugby team onboard were forced to do to survive, depicted in the Movie “Alive.” Or more recently James Franco’s’ Oscar nominated portrayal of mountain climber Aron Ralston and his incredible ill-fated “127 hours” in the Blue John Canyon of Utah.
But just as it does not take a major disaster to find yourself in a desperate situation, not all survival stories make headlines. There are hundreds, thousands of equally amazing stories of survival that occur across the planet every day.
- Such as Vicki Rhodes, a nurse from Salem, Arkansas, who awoke from a nap to find her apartment engulfed in flames. Despite the heat and smoke, she found her way to a window, and jumped the three stories, breaking both her legs and feet, but surviving.
- Or another grandmother as strong and stubborn as Tillie Tooter — Teresa Bordais, a 62-year-old French woman, who survived 11 days lost in the Spanish Pyrenees living on nothing but rain water and nibbling on wild herbs.
- Or Shayne Young who stumbled over 3 miles to safety, enduring the unbelievable pain of fractured vertebrae, to avoid freezing to death on top of a mountain, after his ATV had overturned, nearly crushing him to death.
Whether their particular stories became legendary or not, what all of these people had in common, was the determination, the will — not to be a victim. They said to themselves, and sometimes even shouted out-loud:
“I AM NOT GOING TO DIE TODAY”
Let’s look at what it really means to “survive.” Survival, in its most literal sense means to “stay alive.” With the possible exception of complete and utter breakdown of global society, that usually means merely being able to remain alive until help arrives and you can be rescued. And that has more to do with your attitude, than any training you have had, or equipment you have on hand.
SURVIVAL IS A STATE OF MIND – YOUR BRAIN IS YOUR MOST POWERFUL SURVIVAL TOOL!
There is something that everyone who has taken any kind of survival training has had drummed into his or her head, it’s called the Rule of Threes. A person can survive for:
- Three minutes without air
- Three hours without shelter
- Three days without water
- Three weeks without food
The idea behind the Rule of Threes is a simple one: so you know your priorities in any emergency situation. In the food obsessed modern society we live in, untrained people who find themselves for the first time in an emergency situation, often spend their time running around exhausting themselves finding sources of food, and suddenly its nightfall, cold, raining, or snowing, and they are dead by morning without shelter.
Survival, in most circumstances, starts with knowing and setting your priorities.