5 most incredible survival stories
Resilience is a trait we all strive for, both in ourselves and the equipment we specialise in. But here are seven people who took resilience to a whole new level.
The word ‘endurance’ will forever be associated with Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16. Not only was it the name of his ship, it epitomised the spirit of Shackleton and his group of 28 men. The objective was to complete the first land crossing of Antarctica, but before they could set foot on land the Endurance became trapped in pack ice, was crushed and sunk. Shackleton and his men took to the lifeboats and drifted for 14 days through freezing seas to a remote island. From there, Shackleton and four of his men sailed in a makeshift boat 800 miles across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia. Three of them then hiked across the island to a whaling station and began the mission to rescue the rest of the team. Three times their attempts were thwarted by ice, until eventually, after 21 months in freezing conditions, the full complement were carried to safety. The original mission may have failed but the endurance of Shackleton and his men would be held up as a triumph of the human spirit forevermore.
On Christmas Eve, 1971, 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke was flying over South America when her plane was struck by lightning and began to fall apart. Koepcke woke up, still strapped to her seat, having fallen 3,000m into the Peruvian rain forest. She had a broken collarbone, some deep cuts and a swollen eye, added to which she was in the middle of the jungle. She found a stream and followed it for 10 days, living on sweets and water, eventually arriving at a small shelter, where she was discovered the next day by local fishermen and rescued. Sadly, her mother, who was flying with her, did not survive.
Cutting your losses
You probably know Aron Ralston as “the bloke who cut his hand off to free himself from a rock”, as featured in the film 127 Hours. In 2003, Ralston was climbing alone in Utah when a boulder fell on his hand, trapping him. After three days, with his supplies running out, he realised he had no choice but to amputate his hand. He tried for two days, eventually having to break the bones in his arm to make the job ‘easier’. He then climbed down a 65-foot rock wall with one hand and was rescued by campers and lived to climb again.
In 2018, 23-year-old Angela Hernandez suffered a horrific car accident that nobody would expect to survive. She was driving down the California coast on Highway 1 when she swerved to avoid an animal in the road and plunged over a cliff, 200 feet into the sea below. She suffered fractured ribs, a broken collar bone, a collapsed lung, and a brain haemorrhage but miraculously found the strength to smash a window and swim out to the rocky shore. But her ordeal had only just begun. Nobody had witnessed the accident and with the road so far above, nobody could see the wreckage, nor hear her cries. She had no choice but to start walking. For seven days she dragged her broken body along the shore, sipping water from moss on the rocks, while cars sped by up above, oblivious to her plight. Eventually she was found by hikers, curled up exhausted among the rocks, and a rescue party lifted her to hospital. On her Facebook page she wrote, “The past week has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.” We hope it stays that way!
Lost at sea
In May 2013, a tugboat, the Jascon 4, sank off the coast of Nigeria, taking its 12 crewmen to the bottom. Three days later, divers began work to salvage the tragic wreck – and were astonished to find a survivor on board. Harrison Okene, the ship’s cook, had been trapped in an air pocket as the ship went down and that was enough to keep him alive. But three days at a depth of 30m, not to mention the lack of food and water, takes a serious physical toll. Okene’s body had become ‘saturated’ with the pressurised gasses and moving him to the surface too quickly would have killed him. So he was kept in a diving chamber and gradually depressurised over two days. Okene apparently kept cool throughout his ordeal, a character attribute that probably saved his life.
We now expose our IT to some extreme conditions and hostile environments. When choosing suitable devices it pays to use the best. You can see the range of Panasonic Toughbook devices here ..