FAST teaches survival skills to incoming students

Aug. 27, 2012

April Wefler
[email protected]

Picture this: 64 incoming freshmen learning how to survive in the wilderness. The situation may seem like a pitch for a new reality TV series, but it’s just another day at UCCS.

On Aug. 17, members of First Aid Survival Techniques, or FAST, taught “UCCS Survivor,” a freshman seminar on making snares and sharp rocks, using rope, filtrating water, flint knapping, jerking meat and using a rabbit stick – basic wilderness survival.

“It went great; I thought students seemed to really enjoy it. It’s the sort of skill set you don’t normally see in the academic environment. They all came away with basics required for wilderness survival,” said Klint Janulis, a senior and co-founder of the club.

FAST began as a basic self-defense and trauma medical course to prepare for the realities of public shootings, but it morphed into an all-around survival program.

The club has three different components: active shooter response, a medical component and wilderness survival.

During the active shooter response component: “We teach people how to barricade a door, how to use things in the classroom as weapons if you need to defend yourself, how to distract a gunman [and] a three-person takedown,” said Janulis.

Next is the medical component, which teaches survival for disaster situations and how to evaluate what’s wrong with the injured. Members also learn triage, how to stop bleeding and how to identify which people need the most help.

Lastly is wilderness survival. The wilderness survival component teaches how to make a water filter and a fire, how to build a trap, how to make beef jerky in the sun with just meat, how to make rope and how to work as a team to accomplish a goal.

Janulis founded the club three years ago with two other Special Forces members, Al Marle and Joe Stabley, after a rash of public shootings. “We put together a training program designed to teach people what to do in case of public shootings,” he said.

He added that after the Virginia Tech shooting, there were a lot of people who didn’t respond because of a lack of basic knowledge and training.

“When you compare the Fort Hood shooting to Virginia Tech, there’s about a 30 percent difference in mortality rate with a similar caliber weapon,” noted Janulis.

“The Fort Hood soldiers all had basic trauma medicine skills and were immediately applying tourniquets and chest dressings. There’s nobody teaching these basic skills to college students,” he added.

Senior anthropology student and club president Julie Harbin mentioned that most of what FAST teaches relates toeveryday life.

“The incident in Aurora, the incident in Columbine, [there were] many incidents this year with people put in positions where they have to respond to circumstances,” Harbin said.

She noted that learning any of these skills will put students at an advantage. “It makes you feel safer; makes you feel you have things under control. You’re ready for the unexpected,” Harbin said.

Janulis mentioned that he hopes the freshman seminar gets carried on after he and Julie have graduated. “We need motivated people that want to become FAST instructors,” he said.

FAST holds training seminars throughout the year. The FAST wilderness survival and medicine course curriculum was picked up by the Department of Public Safety as a three-credit freshman seminar course.

The club is separate from the seminar program and will be offering survival training throughout the year. Students interested in becoming a FAST instructor or joining the club can like the FAST Club UCCS page on Facebook or contact Harbin at [email protected]. Times and locations have yet to be announced.