BigPig Outdoors 2017-2018 calendar is up on the website. More classes to come…
BigPig Outdoors 2017-2018 calendar is up on the website. More classes to come…
Three years ago I was at a crux. I had resigned from my backcountry law enforcement ranger position, found out we were having a baby, and started planning our move to North Carolina. I remember reading a text from my MMA coach that he sent out to the team about training and priorities. I was in Florida on vacation, and he was right. I realized that I could no longer dedicate the time and energy to that sport, with new priorities entering my life. I left the gym, leaving part of me behind.
The same was true of my LE Ranger position. While I will never regret my decision to leave, there was a part of my soul that missed the most rewarding facet of that job…
Search and rescue.
I have been extremely fortunate to have a career filled with adventure, but there has only been one time in all those years that emotion has swept over me so strongly, I had to walk away.
Ten years ago, I was on a search for two off-trail hikers on the Spruce Flats Falls manway. I was just getting into the law enforcement division, but got teamed up with “Rambo” Ricky Varner who knew the area like the back of his hand. We located the couple, who were forced to spend the night out, and walked them out to Tremont.
There, patiently waiting, was their family, and what ensued was one of the most tender reunions I have witnessed. They don’t always end that way, but reuniting a family with their missing loved one will move the most calloused soul.
And so two years ago, fueled by a desire to be pushed by a group of hard-core guys, a penchant for the misery of off-trail rescues, and the aspiration to help others, I started recruiting a band of outdoor misfits to form an elite search and rescue team. Our mission would be simple. Prepare for the toughest missions the Smokies can offer..
With the promise of bad weather, long hours, no pay, and dangerous work, they started to trickle in one by one. First an adventurer racer, then a paddler and climber, then a helicopter pilot, a doctor, a flight medic, a Special Forces veteran, a neuroscientist, another wildlife ranger, and the list went on.
As diverse as the crew was, they all had in common the desire to help others in need and the ability to push themselves physically and mentally to build a professional team.
Every week for two years, in every weather condition, we have met at a local park to workout together, carrying our SAR packs and kettlebells, pushing the levels of fitness higher and suffering through grueling fitness standards. Every month, the team has assembled for some form of training, be it technical, swiftwater, tracking, land navigation, wilderness medical, rescue swimming, working with K-9 teams, or just a tough off-trail scramble.
Leaving the comfort of our homes and families to respond to missions, we have carried out patients on the icy Appalachian trail. Rigged up ropes to haul the injured hikers up to safety. Searched for a downed plane during hypothermia inducing weather. Assisted with joint technical rescue training. Responded to many calls only to get cancelled en route when the victim walked out. Searched the dark trails for a missing hikers. Assisted in the body recoveries of recent fatalities. And taken vacation days and cancelled personal plans to respond when called.
The team did all this, and more, to be an asset to the Search and Rescue operations of Great Smoky Mountain National Park and help those in need. The park is working constantly to overcome staffing and budget challenges. We hope to help them by pre-deploying on high volume weekends and holidays, which will reduce our response time and allow us to assist with the P-SAR (Preventative Search & Rescue) program.
The BUSAR Team is the finest group of professionals I have ever worked with. They are my friends, my mentors, my teammates, and they have helped fill that tribal void in my life. I am proud of all they have accomplished and all that they will going forward.
So today I am announcing our team website, Team BUSAR, and the exciting news that we got our non-profit status. For the last two years, except for three donors, we have paid for everything out of our own pocket. Our gear, our training, gas, meals, etc. We have done all that because we desire to help.
Now we are asking for your help.
With over 11 million visitors to the Smokies, there is a good chance that you or someone you care about may need help out there at sometime, so please consider helping us by the following:
To date, the BUSAR project has been one of the most fulfilling chapters in my life. This team would have never started without the hard work and dedication of those on the team and their support of their families. To all those involved, current and former, I give thanks.
Thanks to Chief Ranger Steve Kloster, who has been advising me since it’s formation, along with Jared St. Clair, TN District Ranger, who took over the SAR Coordinator role. Thanks also goes out to all the members of the Smokies Tech Rescue team, Kevin Moses and the cadre of B-TRTE for tech training, Chuck Hester of BLRI, and Brian Osgood and the BCRS crew for loaning us equipment for swiftwater training.
What was birthed two years ago, is now starting to stand on its own two feet. The feet wear muddy boots, the bodies are now hardened by countless workouts and training missions, and the spirit stands by waiting for the call and ready to help. The path ahead of us is clear, we are prepared, and ready for the journey. We invite all of you to join us in this mission to help others, by helping us…
I will be speaking at REI Brentwood at 7pm on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The discussion will focus on mentally preparing yourself for wilderness emergencies, training, and gear that could save your life.
Event details REI “Reality of Survival”
There is no cost, so come join us if you are in the area.
The end of Survival 101 season marks the annual migration of survivalists up Harrison Branch to their mountain oasis. They will be back when it cools off, but for now, congrats to Class 33/52!
A friend of a friend recently made the comment “I can’t believe people pay you to make them miserable…”
I shrugged it off, knowing that he is only looking at the surface of my program and not what lies beneath. While I can tout on the benefits of my class all day long, nobody can say it better than a graduate. This week, I received several nice emails and a blog post, which I will share below.
“On the other side of your fear is your freedom.” Jen Sincero
I took a two day wilderness survival course last weekend. Our final drill for the class was called “woman/man in the creek”. We had to submerge ourselves in the creek (temp outside was around 45 degrees; the water was around 52 degrees) for 10+ minutes and then start a fire after we got out using only the gear we had in our pockets (wet lighter, cotton balls with petroleum jelly and a fire starter). I dreaded this drill from the moment I signed up for the class. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to stay in the water. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to start a fire on my own. I was scared . . . plain and simple.
Well, I was able to stay in the water. I was able to start a fire on my own. The best part? It was so incredibly freeing! I now have more confidence going on solo adventures. Instead of thinking about the things I’m not sure I can do, I’ve now been thinking about the things I can do . . . and new things have been added to the bucket list because of the freedom and empowerment I experienced from doing this one simple drill.
Thank you to Andrew Herrington and Big Pig Outdoors for such a powerful experience. I highly recommend his class to anyone who plays outside. Jeanna – Class 33/52
I’m sending this from my phone, so please excuse any typos. I want to thank you so much for this past weekend. I cannot tell you how much I learned both about myself and the survival tactics that were covered.Before I left, Ruth said, “I hope you learn something new this weekend and it isnt just going over stuff you already know!” And oh my god did I. When I got back I told her how I didn’t just learn new information, but I learned how almost everything I THOUGHT I knew was wrong or off base. The information you present is life saving. I thought I might be fine in an event but have had my eyes opened on what type of real information is out there. Ty – Class 33/52
It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old men were snoring,
The boys went to bed,
Laid down their heads,
To waken in the morning
To more rain…
and dropping temps…
Congrats to the inaugural crew of the “Family” Survival 101 class, that faced wet weather challenges like no other class before them.
Teamwork, communication, and skill allowed them to source natural tinder and kindling during the showers and hone their firestarting skills, preparing them for the final scenarios.
Stump kickin’, Summers clan style..
The Magli clan claims victory over the wet wood, mud puddle firestarting challenge..
Chief of the Birdwell clan directs his own medical treatment and rescue..
Confident in your family’s ability to handle a wilderness emergency?
If the answer is no, then our family program is the answer.
Email email@example.com about future “family” classes.
Break the bonds of consumerism today and invest in your family. BPO’s Cyber Monday special is “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” for the Family Survival 101 class on December 17-18.
This isn’t your typical, “feel good and sing Kumbaya while toasting marshmellows around the campfire” course. This is realistic training to prepare your family to overcome the threats and challenges associated with wilderness recreation.
Need incentive? A quick Google search of “family wilderness survival ordeals” will bring up the tragic stories of the Kim, Decareaux, and other families, that are sobering reminders of how quickly a family adventure can turn life threatening. Skills, knowledge, and a little equipment are all it takes to turn the odds in your favor.
There are two more family spots available, so first come, first serve. This deal breaks down to only $86 per family member for two days of training and allows you to give an experience instead of a gift.
Click here to learn more and sign your family up.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.