Dealing with Desperate People

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

The internet has been awash with stories about the people who were stranded on I-95 in Virginia and North Carolina. Some thousands of people, along a 50 mile stretch of the highway, spent as much as 24 hours stuck in gridlock, basically confined to their vehicles, due to the road being closed. Temperatures dropped to the 20s during the night, as people ran out of gas to keep their vehicles warm.

The basic problem which caused all this seems to have been a combination of 11 inches of snow and a jackknifed truck. On the surface, neither seems to be a big enough or uncommon enough problem that it should have caused traffic to be backed up for 50 miles. But I wasn’t there and details about the incident are still rather sketchy. Obviously there was something pretty serious that was keeping them from getting the highway opened up again and traffic moving.

This sort of situation is the perfect example of why we need to follow the old Boy Scout motto of “Be prepared.” None of us know when we’re likely to run into a situation that could threaten our survival. But it doesn’t take a threat of our survival to make such a situation dangerous; all it takes is desperate people.

We live in a society which strives to protect people from danger. Regardless of what other factors may have been at work, it was this effort to keep people safe that was used to sell the idea of lockdowns and other extreme measures due to the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the results of such coddling is that there are many people who don’t have the first idea of how to deal with an emergency. Their lack of knowledge makes it easy for them to become desperate when things go wrong.

As I said, I wasn’t there; but I’m sure there were desperate people sitting there on that highway, gradually becoming more and more desperate as time wore on and the situation didn’t improve. When they ran out of gas and their cars got cold, they were looking for any solution that they could find. Unfortunately, road conditions and the backed-up traffic made it difficult for relief crews to reach the people needing help. Most of the help that did come, came from other motorists, such as the driver of a bakery truck passing out the bread in his truck.

Obviously we want to avoid such situations and if we are caught in them we want to avoid anyone who is showing emotional instability. But what if we can’t? How can we handle such people, without putting our families in danger?

To start with, the biggest thing that most of these people need is reassurance. One of the things that made this situation in particular so difficult for the people stranded on that highway was that there was nobody telling them what was going on and when they could expect to get off the highway. The lack of information, more than the actual situation, caused much of their anxiety.

On top of that there was the obvious concern with survival. A car with a full tank of gas can idle for about 33 hours. But it’s unlikely that many of those cars started that wait with a full tank. People either had to ration their fuel, running the engine intermittently so that they could heat their car’s cabin or they would run out of gas. Few had blankets or anything else to help keep them warm.

This is one area where we can help others out. While none of us carry enough blankets and food in our cars to take care of everyone, we all have knowledge in our heads. Going around to others and sharing our knowledge can be enough to keep people calm and avoid them reaching that feeling of desperation.

But what about that person whose bound and determined to work themselves up into a state of desperation. That’s where real discretion is going to be needed. While the best wisdom is often to avoid them, that may not be possible, especially if they’re in the next car over. In that case, we need to invest some time into helping keep them on an even keel, so that they don’t become desperate.

The big danger is if someone becomes desperate enough that they start waving a gun around, demanding that others give them the things they need. Our natural inclination might be to meet force with force, but that should be reserved as a last step, if nothing else works. It would be hard to prove self-defense if you shoot someone who is losing it like that.

Once again, the best thing to do is to talk them down. People like that don’t really want to pull the trigger. They just want answers. So give them answers, even if you have to make them up. That is ultimately going to be better for you and for them both. If the opportunity presents itself, you might be able to disarm them later; but don’t even try to do so before getting them settled down.

You always have your gun as a backup; but let it be that. As long as they don’t know you’re armed, you can draw your gun, surprising them. That may ultimately be necessary, but not until you’ve run out of other options.

Of course, make sure your own car is stocked with anything you’ll need to have in order to survive. That’s just another part of keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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