In part one of this article series, we looked at the reason for the three skills– planning, training, and exercising– for bugging out. This process is based on tried and true emergency management principles that are currently being used by both public and private institutions all across the nation. The benefit of this plan, train, exercise process is that it allows you and your group to take an all-hazards approach to preparing for a plethora of disasters and emergencies.
Training Everyone On The Plan (continued)
Yesterday, we completed the planning portion and just barely began the training portion of the process with “training everyone to use your bug out supplies/equipment”. Let’s continue with the various parts of training.
Radios can be the make or break component in your bug out process, and so like other pieces of equipment your group must be well versed in how to use them. Simple two-way radios  are easy to use because they only rely on several channels; however, they are severely limited in their operating distances. Ham radio  on the other hand can be setup to talk with individuals from all over the world, but this requires a much more in-depth understanding of their proper use as well as a license in order to legally operate.
Thankfully, there are plenty of free online tests and books that can be used to help familiarize your group with the Ham radio material. The National Association for Ham Radio is an excellent place to start for those who may be new to the technology. On their website, you can find practice tests and information on how to obtain the various certifications.
Ideally, your group should also be trained on an additional method of communicating besides radios. Satellite phones  can be a good backup option; however, worthwhile phones can cost upwards of $1,000 and can be complex to use if the operator has not been adequately trained. Obtaining and becoming proficient with either of these communications systems will take both time and effort to be a viable option during your bug out. This is why, regardless of the system your group uses, it is important to give everyone in the group a basic working knowledge of their primary and redundant communication system. In short, you shouldn’t ever be tearing off the packaging of your new radio or sat phone when it comes time to bug out.
Training On Your Egress Routes
Once you have identified your egress routes, it is important that all relevant parties know the primary and alternate routes to your safe area. This includes children as well, because it simply isn’t realistic to assume that everyone will be able to travel together. It is important to train your group to know what to do when the “what if” scenarios rear their ugly heads. For example, ask your group “If our primary path is blocked or we get separated what should we do?” Then train them to pick the best answer according to your plan, such as, “We choose the closest secondary route and rally at the supply cache until nightfall.
If no one makes it to rally point by the next morning, then we should continue on to the area of refuge.” This is just one example of how you can set up the egress route training. Obviously everyone’s plan will differ, but by setting up expectations ahead of time you can train your group to operate even if communications are nonexistent.
Exercising (a.k.a. Testing) Your Plan
Exercising Your Supplies/Equipment:
You can do all of the planning and all of the training you want, but to get a true feel of your capabilities, you will want to exercise the plan. Good exercises will not only show you what equipment your group is proficient with, but they will also give you an understanding of which capabilities you are lacking. An important principle to good exercises is to start simple and then build in more complexity later on. For example, your plan might state that all members should be packed and ready to leave within a half hour after the decision to bug out has been made.
You can easily test this objective by seeing how quickly your group can realistically load all of your equipment into your vehicles. This kind of test will give you baseline to assess how close you are to achieving the objectives set forth by your bug out plan. As your group achieves these simple objectives, you can add more and more complex exercises to increase realism. For example, you can simultaneously test the team’s use of equipment  needed to change a flat tire while also testing their ability to respond to hostile individuals in need of supplies.
This simulation can be fairly complex if you integrate having actors “other members of your group” simulate hostile involvement during the vulnerable minutes that your vehicles are immobilized for the tire change. Drills like these can give you critical information about how well versed your group is with the equipment you plan on using during your bug out. With a little creativity you can exercise almost every piece of equipment that your group uses.
Since communicating with one another is fundamental to coordinating any type of operation, it is critical to test your group’s ability to communicate during simulated crisis situations. Once again it is important to start simple. This can be done by having everyone do a regular radio check once or twice a month to ensure that all group members are able to hear and speak over the primary communications system. You can then add complexity on your next outing by testing your radio coverage along the planned egress routes.
You can also test your group’s ability to adapt and overcome communication challenges by simulating that their primary method of communicating has become unusable. This will exercise their ability to utilize your pre-established redundant communication methods, such as satellite phones and shorter distance two-way radios. Another great drill is to have every member find the correct talk channels on a radio that isn’t tuned to the proper channel. Exercises like these will keep your group’s skills sharp and also show you what areas still need more training.
Exercising Evacuation/Egress Routes
An infinite amount of things can go wrong along the way to your area of refuge, so this is why it is so important to test your group member’s ability to adapt to hazards and issues along the way. These tests again can start as simple as testing your group’s ability to remember the route to your area of refuge. For example, you can play car games with your group and kids by asking them to be the “navigator”, which allows you to test their ability to remember the correct path.
Later, you can add complexity by giving your group time constraints to achieve their bug out packing and egress objectives. For example, say, “In 30 minutes you must be in your vehicles and on the road; within the hour you should be able to meet us at the rally point and set up a defensive perimeter.” These objectives should be well established in your plan, and once you test the reality of how feasible your egress objectives are, you can gain an accurate picture of how well you and your group is prepared for when it is time to do it for real.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest . The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses , excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper . These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees  in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product  from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses .
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4  Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of  Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections , a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord  (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail  us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.