Check, Call, Care The 3 Steps of Survival

Anyone who’s ever taken a Red Cross CPR course has undoubtedly heard of Check, Call, Care. It is the foundation for dealing with a true survival situation.

Though many people dislike him, Bear Grylls has a similar survival philosophy, granted it is not exactly the same. Regardless, his emphasis is the same. Grylls approach is Protection, Rescue, Water, and Food. Protect yourself from immediate danger—exposure, animals, injuries, etc. Signal for rescue and finally keep hydrated and fed until rescue arrives.

So, how can Check, Call, Care be expanded into our wilderness adventure plans? It’s actually very easy.


Is the situation really a survival situation? Not all situations are survival situations and yet some situations are obvious survival situations, so check it out or consider it. This is where having first-aid training really comes in handy. It helps one really separate true life threatening situations from non-life threatening situations. It can also help you identify early warning signs which can turn into survival situations. Being stuck in the middle of the desert with a broken axle on your vehicle, though is not a survival situation yet, can turn into one if you don’t get out of there.


Once the determination has been made it is a survival situation, the next order of business should be to call for help. In many instances we may have mobile phone service, so we can use it to call for help. Often times, however, service is not available in areas we visit, so we should prepare accordingly. Fortunately technology has advanced in such away that help really is almost just a phone call away, regardless if there is mobile phone service or not. I’m speaking of course of PLBs, or Personal Locator Beacons. These would be your SPOT, DeLorme, or ACR devices. Think of them as your own Emergency GPS trackers, similar to what airplanes and boats are equipped with. They are easy to operate and are good at what they do—Bring rescue to your location. PLBs are backcountry 911 devices.

I personally carry an ACR Resqlink. I was sold by the countless rescue stories I read online, of those who used one for rescue. 

Anyone who guides folks into the backcountry should have a PLB as a means of insurance for their clients.


Check, Call, Care The 3 Steps of Survival

Once the call to rescue has been made, provide and continue to provide care for yourself and others while you wait for rescue. This means care for wounds if there are any. Protect yourself and others from the elements. Stay hydrated, get rest, and eat to the best of your ability. Try to keep all threats at bay. Do what you need to do to keep safe until help arrives.

Handling survival situations doesn’t have to be difficult, and in fact should be handled in the most efficient manner possible. Survival situations should be handled intelligently, decisively, and efficiently.

Check, Call, Care is recognized as the 3 Cs of Survival (how fitting) in the Red Cross Community. Just remember to keep it simple.