The idea of forming a survival group has been discussed before and there is no doubt that being part of such group will increase your chances of surviving a disaster. However, when forming a survival group, there are several roles that are necessary in order for all the members to withstand a major event.
At first, your survival group might not have a wide range of choices when it comes to the skill set possessed by its members. Most survival groups will be formed ‘on the spot’ and each group will take in family members, close friends and trustworthy neighbors. This is the realty and only few people actually spend time to develop a survival group that is able to survive and thrive even under the toughest living conditions.
If the event has world-changing outcomes and if your survival group manages to make it past the first few months, you will be forced to accept new people in order to consolidate the survival efforts. Each survival group has to mature and in order to do that, you will need to seek out individuals that are cross-trained in more than one of the skills needed to survive. Your crew should have members that are able to express more than one role, as versatility and adaptability is the key to self-sufficiency.
Here are the roles that need filling in any survival group:
This is the person who guides the group and the one who has to make the hard decision when times are tough. The leader must be intelligent and charismatic, he or she must inspire trust and most of all, the leader should be able to spot problems before they arise. Some believe that the person who founded the survival group should be the leader, but that may not always be the best option. In any survival situation, the leader position is filled gradually and somehow organically as the group develops. Leaders can be formed, but most of the successful leaders were born with the ability to organize, delegate and inspire others. A good leader knows that every once in a while, he needs to implement a leadership rotation, meaning that each person should take a turn at leading the people during a non-life-threatening situation and everyone should agree to this plan. However, for life-threatening events the survival group must trust only on one person to lead them.
Recommended article: How to form a survival group
Nobody seems to consider this role when it comes to planning a survival group and it is something overlooked by many. If you ever interacted with people under various circumstances (like working in retail), you should know by now how important it is to have someone that’s good at conflict resolution and negotiation. In a survival group, having a mediator is crucial to the success of the group because when dealing with stress and harsh living condition, your group is going to develop internal conflicts. That’s just the nature of human beings and the mediator will be the only one who can help everyone to resolve arguments and conflicts. While conflicts are not necessarily a bad thing and it may lead to good changes, it is important how the conflict is resolved and how the mediator is able to restore the peace of mind needed by everyone in the group.
Having a person inside your group that has extensive medical knowledge is critical if your group has to prepare for extreme long-term events. The medic is the one who keeps everyone healthy and the one that helps members with setting dietary changes. Having a medic trained in everything from battlefield surgery to herbal remedies will give your group an incredible advantage. The other members should learn from the medic in order to disperse this life saving knowledge. There’s no use in stressing this anymore as it should be common sense: if you want to survive you need a medic in your group.
This person is the one that knows the region very well and knows where resources are located and how to reach them when needs arise. This is the type of person that knows how to explore the surrounding areas without leaving a trail and he or she will not spend too much time at camp. The type of person that can provide you with any material or supplies you need if given a list. He will know exactly where to look for what you need and how to obtain it. Since the scout will do most of the exploring, he or she will be in the best position to alert the group of incoming threats.
Recommended reading: Know your region before disaster strikes
Each survival group will have one or more soldiers and these persons are responsible for group security. This is actually the role that has no problem being filled, given how many preppers and survivalist have military or law enforcement backgrounds. Most survival groups consist mainly of soldiers and even though many believe that this is a good thing, if you want to survive a long-term disaster you should really consider cross-training. Having a bunch of soldiers in your survival group is perfectly fine in my opinion, but if you overlook the other roles that are necessary for the group’s survival, it’s just a matter of time until the group falls apart.
This is another key component of the group if you have to face a long-term disaster. This is the person responsible for growing the food consumed by the group and he or she has a good knowledge of what types of plants grow best in the area. An experienced farmer knows how to organize gardens for a year-round success and how to raise and breed both small and big livestock. Not to mention that most farmers are already prepared for the next growing season and chances are, he or she will already have a seed bank stacked away. Those resources will come in handy during a crisis. The farmers will be able to involve everyone in the labor needed with the crops and each member will learn things by doing. An experienced farmer can also share his knowledge about food preservation or use his butchering skills when needed.
Although many overlook this position as well, every survival group needs an organizer that is able to handle the logistics. It doesn’t matter if you have a bunch load of supplies if the group goes through them in one week. A planner will help you keep track of available resources and he will communicate to the group when supplies are low. He or she will know just how long the food will last by tracking the consumption level of the group. The planner will need to find ways for the supplies to last and he or she will need a close collaboration with the scout in order to find new supplies or at least, get the proper replacements.
Suggested reading: How to establish prepping priorities
This is the provider of the group and this person should have a vast knowledge when it comes to hunting, fishing and trapping. Regardless the area in which your group lives, the hunter should have the equipment, knowledge and experience to bring home food. A good hunter knows how to use every part of the animals so that nothing goes to waste. Most importantly, he or she knows how to practice sustainable hunting to avoid destroying the biodiversity from the region. It would be ideal if the hunter has also knowledge about foraging wild edibles and medicinal plants.
There are all sorts of handymen and while most of them follow the rules by the book, there are those who are able to improvise and do all sorts of MacGivery tricks to create something out of nothing. That’s the type of handyman you need in your survival group, the one that can create a water collection system using nothing but duct tape and some PVC pipes. Having a good handyman in your survival group will help you build sturdy shelters and improvise various life-saving systems that can last for years to come.
Ideally, your survival group should have members that can cover all the roles listed above. If that is not the case, sooner or later, you will have to let in “domestic refugees” and things will get complicated. You will have to do a thorough selection, to quarantine the new arrivals and to close monitor them until they’ve earned the leader’s trust. You can find more about these tasks by reading my previous article regarding how to deal with domestic refugees. If you think that it’s unlikely to have domestic refugees, take a good look at what the good people from Alberta, Canada are going through. Even their prime minister called them refugees and admitted that they don’t have a real plan for all of them.
The lone wolf may survive a long-term disaster as Hollywood tries to teach us, but out there in the real world, the reality rarely mirrors fiction and facing a disaster solo will have only one outcome. If you want to make it in the long run, you should plan on forming or joining a survival group.
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