Safety and Survival

Great Stories of Survival

Despite the many injuries and diseases that we humans can suffer from, we are sometimes capable of doing great things in order to survive. From rationing food supplies to stopping the bleeding on a wound before being sent to a hospital, our adrenaline rush and our powerful will to survive may be able to us from disaster and even death. However, there are a few in the world that have endured catastrophic events that most people may not even be able to survive. Here are some of the greatest stories of survival.

a slot canyon where Aron Ralston was trapped

The Robertsons (1972)

In the first month of 1971, the Robertson family, comprised of Douglas Robertson, Lyn Robertson, Anne Robertson, Douglas Robertson, and twins Neil and Sandy Robertson, went sailing aboard the Lucette, an old wooden schooner purchased by Douglas and Lyn using their life savings. For more than a year, they have sailed around the Atlantic Ocean, as it was the family’s dream to sail across the world.

When they have reached the shores of the Panama Canal, the family hired Robin Williams, who is supposed to be a crew member that will guide them towards the Galápagos Islands. However, on June 15, 1972, before they could even reach the islands, a pod of killer whales attack their boat and left holes in some of its parts. They were able to escape the sinking boat by using an inflatable life raft and a dinghy. They then aimed to reach the doldrums so that they can call for help, but reaching the area would take more than 30 days due to having only a life raft and a dinghy.

Throughout their journey, the family caught several flying fishes, dorados, and turtles so that they can eat them if ever they run out of supplies. In addition, the family would always wait for the rain to come so that they can collect drinking water. On the 16th day of the voyage, the life raft became unusable, so all of them had to get aboard the small dinghy. They were eventually rescued on the 38th day by the crew aboard the fishing trawler named Tokamaru II.

The Accidental Aquanaut (2013)

On May 26, 2013, a tugboat called Jascon-4 capsized while stabilizing an oil tanker in the Gulf of Guinea. Eleven crew members died as the tugboat sank at the bottom of the sea at 98 feet, but there was one survivor. That survivor was Harrison Odjegba Okene, the cook for the crew members of the ship.

Through quick-thinking, Okene was able to reach an area of the boat, specifically the engineer’s office, which has a space that is not yet occupied by water. As his height was not enough to reach the open space, he created a platform using a mattress and other items in the office in order to get his upper body above water. He survived for 60 hours before a group of divers based in South Africa, who were tasked to recover the bodies inside the tugboat, was able to hear and see him call for help.

127 Hours (2003)

Thrill-seeker Aron Ralston went on a canyoneering trip in Bluejohn Canyon on April 26, 2003. Ralston did not inform anyone about his adventure, and he went alone to experience canyoneering on his own. While he was heading down a slot canyon in the area, a large rock near the top of the canyon descended towards him. The stone smashed his left hand, while his right hand is crushed between the side of the rock and a portion of the slot canyon, thus preventing him from moving away from his suspended position in the middle of the canyon.

Believing that no one will come for him there since he didn’t inform anyone about his trip, he tried to get his right hand out of the stone but with no avail. He spent approximately 127 hours in the canyon trying to survive by drinking small amounts of water, and when the water supply ran out, he drank his own urine. As he felt that he is starting to become dehydrated and famished due to lack of water and nutrition, he began recording on his video camera his goodbyes to his family and loved ones.

However, after having an idea to amputate his right arm so that he can escape, he tried all that he can to survive by using the small tools that he had to sever the lower part of his right up from the upper part. He was able to escape and climb out of the canyon, but his vehicle was 8 miles away from him. Thankfully, he saw a family and called them for help, as he can die of blood loss before even reaching his vehicle.

The Wild Boars Rescue (2018)

On June 23, 2018, a soccer team comprised of 12 boys and their coach decided to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non, a cave near the football field where they practiced. The coach, who was 25 years old at the time, as well the young soccer players (aged 11 to 16), began exploring the deeper parts of the cave before a flash flood blocked their exit, which was 4 kilometers away from them.

As they did not bring any food with them before exploring their cave, they only relied on the dripping water from the stalactites for nutrition and sustenance. For nine days, the team decided to dig a hole somewhere in their location in hopes that it will be their way out of the cave. They managed to dig the hole for up to 16 feet before being rescued by British divers and the Thai Navy Seal.

But, the rescue did not come quickly for all the players of the team and their coach, as the divers cannot rescue them all in one go. The mission took three days before all the people trapped in the cave were rescued. All of the players and their coach survived the ordeal, but sadly, a member of the diving team named Saman Kunan died of asphyxiation when he tried to deliver supplies of air to the soccer team and the other divers.

The Apollo 13 Mission (1970)

the landing module for Apollo 13 where the crew members are rescue

The Apollo 13 mission was infamous for being a near-disaster by NASA, but thanks to the great piloting and quick-thinking skills of those who were inside the Apollo spacecraft, they were able to land on Earth successfully, although they didn’t land on the moon, which was supposed to be their mission.

Before reaching the moon, the Apollo spacecraft controlled by Jack Swigert, Fred Hayse, and Jim Lovell, were surprised when a cryogenic oxygen tank exploded and damaged a part of their ship. Since landing the damaged ship on the moon is now impossible because they may no longer fly back to Earth if they did continue the mission, the pilots and the people at the NASA mission control center started brainstorming ideas on how the Apollo spacecraft can return to Earth.

After deciding that the only way to can go back is by orbiting the moon and used its gravity to slingshot them towards Earth, the crew of Apollo 13 took the risk instead of dying in space without trying. Thankfully, the return and reentry mission was successful, and all of the crew members inside the lunar module, the remaining part of the Apollo spacecraft, were unharmed.

Those are five great stories of survival that will go on in record books as some of the best examples of human triumph. If there is one lesson that we can learn from these great survival stories, it would be that no matter how much the stacks are against us, we must never give up, and we must always do our best to overcome the hurdles in life.

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