Would You be Able to Leave Someone Behind?

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I routinely think about the potential of bugging out with my family. When I do consider how this would work logistically, I probably paint a rosier picture than is prudent from the standpoint of the circumstances that would necessitate me having to resort to this option. If my family is bugging out, things are very bad. If I am bugging out, it is with the plan that we won’t be coming back and the situation on the ground at my home is one that is not suitable for living any more. As it stands right now, I don’t have a large survival group or network of friends that plan to rendezvous on the outskirts of town at our rally point. It would be me and my family which believe it or not does not consist of a high-speed, low drag platoon of Army Rangers.

Assuming again that the circumstances were unlivable at home and we were forced to hit the trail with only our carefully selected survival gear in our pre-packed Bug Out bags. The act of simply walking into the wilderness for many miles exposed to whatever the element conditions were on that given day, with my family would take more time than I would like, cause them a lot of stress and frayed nerves and would make us extremely more vulnerable. This is assuming everyone was healthy, suffered no injuries along the way and we actually had a place to go. I view aspects of bugging out with caution but I still think my immediate family could make it physically. I know there would be dangers if we were forced to hike to a safer location, but I usually stop at plans for minor first aid, shelter from the elements, food and water and lastly security. It would be tough, but we could make it I believe if grace were on our side.

But what if members of your group weren’t at the top of their game physically so to speak. What if some have serious health issues? What if someone was gravely injured or had a serious medical emergency that you simply couldn’t deal with? What if you couldn’t go on?

A recent and recently frequent contributor to the Prepper Journal, Bolo asked me the following question the other day.

What would you do if someone in your group became unable to continue the journey?  This frequently happens with smuggling groups, where a person is suffering from hyperthermia or has a heart attack or stroke.  Predictably, the “Coyote” guide will abandon them in the desert and continue on with the rest of his group.  He has a schedule to maintain, a pre-set load up area, and a pay day to think about.  Many of these people die where they were left on the trail and the Coyote would be facing murder charges if he was apprehended

I think Bolo was framing this question from the perspective of a bug out scenario that involved his local regional desert environment but the risks aren’t limited to long treks over barren stretches of uninhabited land. The potential for circumstances arising in your group that would cause you to be forced to stop or radically change your travel plans are common to every prepper I think and I found this question intriguing because it wasn’t something I had spent too much time thinking about.

Never leave a man behind?

There is an unspoken bond as humans that we share that compels us to take care of other people we are with. This could be obvious bonds like you have with your family members, friends or even acquaintances. It could also be not as obvious as in the case of people we might not know from Adam, but find ourselves traveling with. Passengers who are involved in plane crashes or commuting accidents, shoppers at a mall under attack from religious fanatics or guests at a hotel involved in a bombing are frequently cited as helping one another out during and after the disaster even though they have no tangible vested interest in offering assistance. Instead of running in the opposite direction to protect their own lives, many people rush into danger at a very real risk to their own safety simply because they are driven by some innate compulsion to help. I can say now while I am sitting in my chair typing on my computer that I think I would always do the same thing for my fellow humans but is that really true?

The U.S. Army’s Soldier’s Creed has as one of its lines: I will never leave a fallen comrade. This is simple to understand and I never questioned it when I served in the military. Though I did not see combat, I believe that I would have lived that creed out in whatever capacity to the best of my abilities. Your comrades are your brothers in arms who are right there with you in harm’s way. You would want them to help you get home and you would willingly do the same for any of them.

But… if SHTF and we as families with children and groups of like-minded individuals, not an Army with transportation and resupply capabilities, are forced to abandon the relative safety and shelter of our homes; are things different? Going back to earlier, I have to believe that if I am bugging out with my family, things are bad. This isn’t, the roads are out and the power won’t be back on for a few days bad. It is danger serious and we fear for our lives bad. In this case, anything that prevents you from escaping that situation could end up killing you.

Using Bolo’s example of his series on Covering Your Tracks where your survival group is forced to flee from some force who is tracking you;  speed of travel has to be a factor in there somewhere. If you aren’t able to travel faster than your pursuers, while hopefully not leaving any tracks, you could eventually be caught. Anything that prevents your travel to that safer destination is potentially a risk to your entire group.

Some decisions you make can completely change your plans.
Some decisions you make can completely change your plans.

Tough Decisions

I think about this from a couple of different viewpoints because I do have people in my family who would simply not be able to make it if they were forced to bug out. For health or age reasons some of my relatives might decide that they would rather die where they were than try to begin a long and arduous journey they knew for themselves anyway, was next to impossible. This is its own moral dilemma. Do you leave someone behind to face certain death or do you bring them along with you understanding that eventually they will not be able to continue, may hate you for it and could face death in the wilderness possibly exposing you to greater danger in the process?

Another aspect would be people traveling with you who are perhaps part of your group. Like the people on that ferry crossing a body of water, you are traveling together. Perhaps you know them but it may be that you have no relationship with them other than your shared survival instincts. Maybe these are neighbors. What if one of them becomes injured and is unable to continue? What if they must be carried and this slows your group down? How much risk are you willing to accept for someone you don’t know if it means putting people you do know and love at risk? These arent your buddies sent with you on a mission somewhere overseas, these could be relative strangers.

The problem with this thought exercise is that as Bolo rightly pointed out; there are too many “what-ifs” to offer anything more than a lot of different scenarios for us to contemplate. What is the disaster that has forced you from your home? Are you fleeing from anyone in particular or is this a general need to get to a safer environment that allows you some flexibility with movement and time? How serious are the injuries or circumstances that are affecting the person? Would they be able to continue the journey with medical care or rest? Can you afford the detour necessary and potential delays to provide the care needed to them? Is there even the possibility of medical care in this SHTF scenario? Are they injured past the point of care that you can provide? Are they telling you to go on without them because they know they are slowing you down or jeopardizing the group? Do you leave them with some food, water and extra ammo for their rifle, or do you give them one bullet and your throw away pistol?

What if this is your diabetic, overweight mother who simply can’t handle the stress or physical activity required to make the trek and refuses to budge any longer? What if they give up on you?

Like some posts on the Prepper Journal, I am going to have to say I don’t know what I would do. I can make statements and plans now, but I don’t think any of us really know what we will do in some cases do until we do it. I think the concept of never leave a man behind is noble. I’d like to believe I would try to live up to that creed, but would I jeopardize my children to honor that promise? Would I sacrifice my wife’s safety for a stranger? It may be that for the safety of others you are forced to choose between one life and the lives of many. I honestly don’t know and like other circumstances we discuss I hope I never have to find out what I would do.

What do you think? Could you leave someone behind if you had to?

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NRP
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NRP

Good “Food for thought” Unfortunately, as you said, to many “what ifs”. One would always like to think of themselves as the “Semper Fi” or the “Soldier’s Creed” type. But in reality there are only a select group of “gung ho” macho military types that could actually may carry their 325# Type 1 Diabetic Mother-in-law through a mine field. 99.99% of the rest of us probable could not. On the other hand, 99.99% of us WOULD carry our 4 year old child through the gates of hell and back regardless of the risk to ourselves and others around us. Lets… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Amen!

twinkle eyes
Guest
twinkle eyes

You pointed at everything I was going to type. It is easier to Carry my child in a baby carrier vest than a disabled adult of 280Lbs on a make shift stretcher.

EgbertThrockmorton1
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EgbertThrockmorton1

Very thought provoking. Good article, Pat.

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much!

Sideliner1950
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Sideliner1950

To me, this seems like one of the hardest questions we may have to answer some day…and as with the whole concept of prepping, most of us can’t possibly know FOR SURE how we would or should appropriately act or react until the S was actually H-ing TF. Again to me, the whole purpose of the concept of prepping is to “create time” for myself and my loved ones while improving our chances for survival, by taking care of basic foreseeable needs and devising a definite plan or plans AHEAD of whatever significant time-critical threat or disastrous event should befall… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you Sideliner,

I know what you mean. So much with prepping is planning for futures you can envision but don’t necessarily have any first hand experience with. For myself, I try to think through my positions on concepts like this in an effort to somehow inoculate myself from the heat of the moment shock, but I suspect that will still happen anyway.

Pat

Bolofia
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Bolofia

Pat, Your post has captured the very essence of an incredibly tough question; thanks for addressing it. Like yourself, and probably everyone else who follows TPJ, I “think” I know what I would do, but that is based on what I am capable of visualizing and working through in my head. For the most part, I have to believe that each of us would try to do whatever it took to aid and protect any member of the group, whether family or friend; even to the point of suspending or abandoning your (or my) bug-out plans while on the move.… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thanks for the inspiration Bolo!

majordad75
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majordad75

A very good, thought provoking article! The question of having to leave someone behind is not often considered and is something that every group needs to consider, because even if your group does not have people who are out of shape and overweight – anyone can slip and break a leg which would inhibit their ability to travel at the same speed as the group. A compound fracture of a leg is possible even if you are a high-speed, low-drag, all prior military group. Someone might be able to mentally and emotionally justify to themselves leaving someone who is old… Read more »

LWJ
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LWJ

Unless I get lucky and the end of the world happens on a weekend or a day that I am not going in to the office, the first place I am going to have to ditch is work. Would I leave my coworkers to fend for themselves? Yup, in a heart beat. Would I leave grandma on the plains with a blanket and a waterbottle to pass on, while we continue our trek…No, we would find a spot to shelter in and make do. Were we being tracked down by another group with ill intent, I would just set up… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much majordad75! You bring up some great points as well.

BobW
Guest
BobW

Interesting concept and personal approach to it, Pat. I think you may be over thinking the whole ‘band of brothers’ concept behind ‘leave no fallen comrade.’ The bond a squad of Soldiers has comes from months and years of shared experiences, in training, in deployment, and in combat. Walking with one or more strangers for a bit doesn’t make them extended family. While I don’t want to project a selfish or callous attitude that isn’t reflective of my personal views, I don’t really owe anything to some guy we just linked up with. I certainly don’t potentially owe a travel… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

You would go full on Shayne and shoot somebody in the leg? I figure you are just kidding unless there are zombies coming after you.

I hear what you are saying but I guess I am trying to keep morals closer to the front of my own internal argument on this hypothetical. Again, it comes down to the situation and we will have to live and maybe die with the consequences of our actions.

BobW
Guest
BobW

Would I really go full-on Shayne? As you stated in the article, everything is situationally dependent. Would I? I can’t say. Without a real, dire situation in front of us, no one can really say yes or no. Could I? If it was the only way to keep my family alive, then yes. What I have done is establish the outer bounds of possible actions. What kind of man would I be if I allowed a stranger’s injury to lead directly to the death of a family member that could have been prevented by leaving/bailing? Are you really willing to… Read more »

Muhammad Abbass
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Muhammad Abbass

I’d like to say one thing, especially since it might be assumed otherwise of a Muslim man. If faced with the choice, my wife would come before my kids. I’ve been married and raised three kids to adulthood but even then felt the same. I also know my wife now would choose me over our future kids. Children are an extension of our relationship and love, not its replacement and as such kids can be replaced but not the love which produced them. Maybe different but I’d also choose our rabbit, Ramzy, over anybody else after the wife and kids.… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

I would definitely save the dog. The cat on the other hand…

Muhammad Abbass
Guest
Muhammad Abbass

I’d feel rather bad about having to abandon the tropical fish tank unless it were a tsunami.

Muhammad Abbass
Guest
Muhammad Abbass

My answers and issues to contemplate would mirror yours. I don’t know, even any given situation will have variables which cannot be foreseen and which could change my decision. I would not endanger my admittedly small entourage for anyone else but I am not sure where I’d call that.

Pat Henry
Guest

Thanks for your comments Muhammad.

Mike Lashewitz
Guest
Mike Lashewitz

This describes my family. I am a functional quadriplegic. (means I can get around) then I have one with a bad knee another 3 with bad everything (their family genetics) and finally one more with a bad lower back. So it is our intent to bug “in” and defend the home.

walcon
Guest
walcon

What is the reason for life if you don’t cherish all life?

BobW
Guest
BobW

Cherishing all life, and being able to save all lives are not the same thing.

Muhammad Abbass
Guest
Muhammad Abbass

If you happen to have nailed “The Reason for Life” then you just cracked one of the oldest and most disputed philosophical questions of mankind. I’m inclined to doubt this is so, since unless I am embarrassingly mistaken you do not happen to have a religion or cult named after you or something? Therefore suggesting cherishing “all life” is a necessary part of this reason is somewhat presumptive. I could also take the simple biological example and ask you where in it’s daily chores does an amoeba or even a crab demonstrate it’s cherishment of all life? Does this mean… Read more »

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

Nobody with any common sense would take their family and bug-out unless it was totally necessary. I would scout alone until I found a suitable place then move my family in the night. Bugging out is the worst thing one could do. This sounds like some sort of propaganda to get people killed. Fortunately, I’m in the Appalachias surrounded by abundant natural resources that I will not share with Yankees or anyone else who come running here thinking they’re gonna move in on my life supply. It will be dangerous for anyone to be moving because of snipers. In the… Read more »

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

You do realize that Billy Bob the Hunter does not equate to being a trained sniper??

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

keep telling yourself that. You do realize where many of the snipers in the military are from?? right? haha
I pray for succession
No other way forward
You’re type can have the north. We will have our own country in the south. No central banks, no interest, money lending….NONE of it. You keep it. We’ll keep our natural resources too, and we will decide what we sell to other countries. The north will get none of them. Good lu8ck

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

Last I checked Wyoming was a bit further West then the hill country your used to. Like I said having a hunting rifle and a scope does not a trained sniper make.

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

Keep telling yourself that, slick. Country folk will outsmart you around every corner. they will out-fight you and damn sure out shoot you. Now climb back into your little fantasy bubble and keep dreaming

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

Alot of the Country folk I know, are not ready to face off against folks armed with AR-15’s and a basic idea of military tactics, when they are only equipped with bolt action hunting rifles, shotguns, and the odd handgun. I know this, at my inlaws house, I have an Enfield MK 4 and a Glock 19. Basic self defense for my NC trips, not a combo I would like to use against people armed with AR-15/AK-47’s etc. I would much prefer an AR style rifle as my primary and one day, would love to get one to have at… Read more »

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

are you trolling? Most people I know have AR’s and AK-47’s. Not to mention 300 Winchester, tactical shotguns, reloaders, etc., etc.. Country folk have always been on the cutting edge of all things guns. Many have served in the military. And there isn’t no city yankee who can outshoot a country boy on a bow. You are so full of it. Either you’re trolling me or you’re really THAT ignorant. I can’t talk to you anymore because you are so out of it. run on along little kid or troll —whatever you are

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

I don’t think we exist in the same reality here, bubba. You sound like you need to be wearing a Grey Uniform with your musket tromping with Army of Northern Virginia. Living in the country is not the be all end of the survival world, and country folks will have a host other problems to deal with besides “Yankee’s”.

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

Stop trolling please. People are laughing at you.

NRP
Guest
NRP

@ AtomicMetroid, your wasting your time with this one
He’s a Know-it-all military type. Knows everything, Done everything, He is always the best. Nothing that anyone else says maters or is of any consequences because he is always right and we are always wrong.
Brainless about the world around him if it’s not totally his way.

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

NRP thus far the chest beating bubba from the Eastern Mountains has yet to impress me with his logic. As I have mentioned before a hunting rifle does not a sniper make. Nor does living in the backwoods make one an expert marksman or the next best thing to Patton……………

NRP
Guest
NRP

Honestly, who the heck cares about impressing you? This article is about someone ability or willingness on leaving someone behind not you’re self inflected expertness in someone’s else’s ability to protect and take care of their own, in the manor they see fit. Or what that person seeing fit when coming to buging out or not. Why dot you get off your all high and mighty military macho high horse and start actually connecting with others on here rather than starting off with “Billy Bob the Hunter” crapo. You may be intelligent but insulting and talking like nobody else has… Read more »

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

Well when said person talks about his willingness to shoot people, and defend his natural resources from Yankees. Then gives me the South will rise again mantra, does not wish to make me connect. It does make me question how he managed to survive this long in life. However many of those Billy Bobs do flock here every fall and snipers they are not…..perks of Wyoming life. I can get a cross section of America without leaving home and it is pretty scary.

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

I think he’s trolling. I think he’s just trying to get a rise out of me because nobody can be that ignorant.

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

It is not ignorant to tell you that the country boy will survive mantra was a great song. Not a given when it comes to survival. It is a given that if you come wandering into unfamiliar places, that the locals will not be very happy to have you. We’re you to stumble your way out here, you would be in the same boat as the masses that would try to head for the hills for safety. The only difference is that the winter would have just as much of a chance to kill you as the locals.

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

Hahaha
Why would anyone come out there???? The minorities/foreigners will have their way with you – there will be nothing left. haha and no, none will “make it to the hills”. But it’s awesome that they’ll be bringing all that free stuff.

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

Oh, and during winter, we have lots of coal, you know, that stuff that keeps your lights on. haha Not to mention tens of millions o acres of timber. You will freeze, starve or be wiped out by raiders, I’ll be warm, belly full and enjoying my new stuff.

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

You do realize that Wyoming is the number one coal producing state in the nation? We beat out the rest of the country by a wide margin. Not worried about foreigners, just flat landers and Greenies the hoardes of the unprepared and semi prepared. We’re pretty hardy out here in God’s country and we are also fairly well armed.

AtomicMetroid
Guest
AtomicMetroid

Been there. Nice place.

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

Yes it is just avoid the Jackson area, to much money in that area now.

SeaLion1
Guest
SeaLion1

Wrong approach. Civilization is dying. The Terraformers provide an off-ramp to shape your own life independent of this civilization, BEFORE bugging out becomes a necessity. You’ll still be able to participate in this civilization to whatever degree you wish, you just won’t be dependent on it. http://www.Terraformers.NeoViking.com

Thomas Paine in the butt
Guest
Thomas Paine in the butt

You’re spot on Pat, its easy to sit back and play keyboard commando. My military experience makes me about as far from a bad arse operator as you can get. Hell the Army might be better in a firefight than an Air Force supply clerk, maybe.

Giving aid and comfort, to the best I’m able, to a random stranger traveling in the same direction is one thing. Running into burning building for strangers is another and for me and mine is still another. My hats off to cops and firefighters for doing it.

Son of Liberty
Guest
Son of Liberty

Good article, and potentially very difficult decisions with too many ‘what if’s.’ If it were a member of my extended family, or a good neighbor (I think now, when things have NOT gone south) I would do my best to take them along. Someone who has a debilitating illness, medical condition, or physical issue that needs significant attention it would be a real heart rending decision, but I think I would lay out the parameters and let them decide if they could ‘keep up.’ If it were someone who had little connection to me & my family and who wanted… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much. You sound pretty much like I would expect if something horrible happened. It isn’t like I am just ditching everyone the minute something goes south. This was a pretty dire scenario with harsh survival conditions. Hopefully none of that would play out.

1fifty
Guest
1fifty

You are all assuming that you, yourself, would not be the one left behind. Or your spouse or children. It’s always the grandparents, or cousins or good friends. Never yourself.

Muhammad Abbass
Guest
Muhammad Abbass

This question is being directed to the presumed strongest person in the group. It is a simple fact of life that the strongest last longest.

1fifty
Guest
1fifty

Just sayin. It’s always a discussion about who I will leave behind. Not if I am one of those that are.

The presumed strongest are not always those that are. Esp if they get sick or injured.

Like I said. The discussion seems to be always be about who I (and my family) will leave behind. Not about if I’m (and my family) are the one that others want to leave behind.

Muhammad Abbass
Guest
Muhammad Abbass

Yes but in that case what exactly are one’s options? If you’re the one to be left behind, then “Get ready to die” is as good as it gets in the bug out scenario being considered. Whether or not to let it happen or get it over with quickly by your own hand might be among the few questions still open to conjecture. The discussion is always about survival and for the one left behind the discussion is basically over.

Pat Henry
Guest

That is a very fair point, but this is just a thought exercise. You are right in that it could be you who becomes unable to carry on any longer. That could be the subject for another article on selflessness or watching your back or a lot of different angles. I chose this angle because I can more easily relate to my own thoughts if put into this situation.

Jo Brown
Guest
Jo Brown

As I was reading the article, I thought why does it matter if we know a person or not, when it comes to deciding whether to take care of them or abandon them? Realistically, all of us are selfish enough to consider people we know as more important than people we don’t know, so we’d likely abandon a stranger in order to save a loved one. But what decision would we make if it involved potentially abandoning a loved one in order to save a number of other loved ones? The stranger we consider abandoning is someone else’s loved one.… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much Jo!

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much Thomas!

Lawrence Black
Guest
Lawrence Black

In a truly life or death scenario (even only potentially so) many of these questions could be asked/answered before even starting out. If someone has a physical or medical condition that will prevent them from maintaining the pace of travel necessary to reach safety, pose the question to them and allow them the dignity of making their own choice, making clear that the decision may well be irrevocable. If you choose to be “noble” and agree to be left behind in the event that your drag on the progress of the group poses a significant risk of death to the… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much Larry and you bring up some excellent points to consider also. Bad movie plot or not, there could be a lot of reality in certain situations for some of us that mirrors movies. Depends on your taste in movies though… I am right there with you.

Pat