Hostile Environment Awareness Training Weekend

21 April 2017

Last weekend the team undertook an essential part of the trip – Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT). Although none of us really knew what to expect, the weekend turned out to be incredibly insightful and enjoyable too.

We were joined for the weekend by Rupert and Stuart from HASP Training. Rupert has over 20 years’ experience in the military and worked for six years training BBC journalists who were due to travel to hostile areas. Stuart was an army medic for 23 years and conducted the emergency first aid side of our training.

The weekend started with discussion with Rupert about our route and what to expect based on his prior extensive experience. Some of the biggest issues we expect to face are when crossing borders (with some borders expected to take 2 days to cross!). As we are aiming to cross around 10 international borders on our journey, getting a heads up on what to expect, how to behave towards bored / aggressive / over friendly border guards and what not to say or do was essential to our planning.

Although we are taking every precaution possible to avoid endangering ourselves on the trip, it’s an unfortunate reality that when driving 10,000 miles in a Ford transit, we are likely to encounter some hazards en route. As such, it was imperative that we had some sort of first aid training. Now a workplace first aid course based on having emergency assistance with you in eight minutes wasn’t going to cut it if something was to happen and we were hours from the nearest hospital. This is where Stuart and his emergency first aid course came in.

The biggest risk we face driving 10,000 miles is, unsurprisingly, being involved in a road traffic accident. Stuart’s course was based around the injuries you’d likely find in in the event of a traffic collision, and how to deal with those. After a lot of work in the classroom, we spent the rest of the day and the following morning dodging the geese by the pond practising what we’d learnt on each other. Having the opportunity to practice using tourniquets, dressing wounds with pressure bandages and learning how to splint broken bones will prove invaluable should anything happen.

The other main part of the training weekend was practising some checkpoint and border scenarios. This involved half of the crew dressing up as ‘border guards’ – complete with camo and replica guns! – whilst the others acted as the crew would when approaching a border. We were able to put in to practice what we’d been taught about effectively bribing border guards without causing offence, as well as making sure we keep all valuables out sight and each other very much in sight! Although these scenarios were quite fun, they have taught us some invaluable skills and made us all feel more confident about approaching the unknown when we start to head east in July. 

Have a look at the photos from the weekend here!  

Mission Mongolia