Doomsday Preppers: Margaret Ling

Up next we have what looks the first themed episode: Escape From New York! I like the idea of having episodes with common threads, instead of the slapdash collection of folks usually on. So, this time, the show looks at three individuals who’ve all decided they don’t want to be in the Big Apple should things go south. And really, who can blame them?
We hear how should something happen to the city’s “fragile system” of bridges and tunnels, 23 million people could be trapped on the island without access to food, water, or electricity. Well, what did you expect? By their very nature, cities leave little room for self-reliance, because they’re designed for complete dependence on the system. In its most basic definition, a city is simply a place that cannot sustain itself with its own resources, and so must have those resources brought in from elsewhere. If our culture didn’t encourage such ostrich behavior in its members, you’d think we’d have seriously considered the possibility of disruptions to the system, and designed our cities to be able to sustain themselves. But alas. As the opening narration reminds us, preppers tend to prefer remote locations over cities, which they usually imagine will completely melt down in the event of a populace-panicking disaster. Yeah, that’ll probably be true.

© NatGeo 2012First up is Margaret Ling, with a worry about—in this post- Katrina and Sandy age—another megastorm, which is entirely likely when one factors in the exponential nature of climate changes.
Transparency clause: Ms. Ling isn’t just some random person off the street, but—like Aton Edwards from the next segment—an instructor from the NYC-based NGO International Preparedness Network.
There’s a funny bit where—because this is Doomsday Preppers, after all—she has to declare what she’s preparing for. Except this time, she’s not staring straight into the camera wearing a gas mask: she’s in a yoga studio, declaring her fear for a megastorm while surrounded by other women in Warrior II. I’m sure it’s supposed to be super-serious, but I couldn’t help but think of Stuart Smalley psyching himself up in the mirror.
margaretling2She drops by the krav maga studio run by Matan Gavish (who mentored Jason Charles last season), because as a woman, she knows she’s more likely to be victimized and wants to be able to defend herself.
Oh, did I mention that they make her go everywhere with this big modern hiking pack? It makes for some funny juxtaposition with her little green dress. Apparently, her bug-out plan is to escape the city and head for the mountains of upstate New York, where she will ride out whatever disaster? Hope she’s competent with off-grid strategies and wilderness skills. Knowing her real background, I have confidence in her proficiency.

Her bag is packed with lots of extraneous survival goods, which Matan tells her could easily be downsized by focusing on skills instead of gear. Gavish also identifies what he considers the most effective weapon in her arsenal:…a lollipop. Yep, seems he thinks it would make a premium eye-gouger. I really like Margaret’s humility when Mr. IDF asks her if she could stab someone in the heart: “I don’t want to say no, but I don’t want to say yes!” Which is a welcome, down-to-earth change from the steely tactical-type guys going on about ‘taking out’ adversaries usually featured on this show.

So, she and Gavish design a route to test her escape plan: fourteen miles on foot, from the tip of Manhattan through Central Park, north to the George Washington Bridge. He arranges for her to be jumped by two guys in the Park, and that’s what happens. The whole artificiality of the scenario is weird, with the camera crew following her and all, but she should’ve still at least had a weapon—lollipop or whatever—at hand, ready to use. Because that’s what you should do when walking around a shadowy area at four AM. Constant vigilance!

He essentially tells her to dump the whole pack, saying that all she really needs is her stabbing weapon and a water bottle. Which is probably true, as all a pack really does is make you a big target for less-prepared folks.

Eventually she reaches the bridge at sunrise. So, yay!, she survived and hopefully now knows what she needs to work on. I’m a big fan of practical exercises as the best way to field-test gear, skills, and strategies. Hmm, what else? How ’bout a picture of pre- and post-civilized Manhattan?

mannhatta 1609-2009




3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Greg Spencer on 29 December, 2012 at 12:07

    I would like to know how Margaret Ling did [through] Hurricane Sandy?


    • Me too, Greg! I know the IPN has had several superstorm-preparedness events post-Sandy, but no word on from Ms. Ling herself. Thanks for reading!


  2. Posted by Anne on 30 December, 2012 at 00:07

    I have to honestly say that I watched this with visions of Escape from New York in my head, hoping for an appearance by Isaac Hayes (okay he’s dead) or Harry Dean Stanton, but this had to be one of the most boring prepper shows I’ve ever seen. It showed me a lot of stuff I already knew and I just found myself watching the clock, wondering if it was over yet. This was a well written piece though, thanks. I come here for my summaries to see if I’m on point.


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