Yeni Siregar and Safety Concern on Outdoor Activities in Indonesia

The death of Yeni Siregar, a 19 years old student of Gadjah Mada University during outdoor basic training in the village on foot of Mt Lawu left another scar on the outdoor community in Indonesia. She presumably dead after lengthy 9 days training in temperamental tropical weather. She suspected being hypothermia, being so tired after reckless sessions and also probably from stomach cramps she had in early days.

About the same time (2nd February 2008) another accident happen to Bagja Gunawan 19 years student at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia in Bandung West Java. He presumably died during basic training in Mt Gundul, Cisolok.

Another recent record on June last year, a climber Djumadi 42 years old died in Mt Sumbing Central Java which he have been trapped in forest fire. While Nurdianto 18 years old died in Mt Ciremai West Java because of hypothermia. His body has been found near the summit.

The most lethal accident that shocked the public was on March 2007 when seven climbers in Mr Rinjani (3726mdpl), Lombok died near the rim. They suffered from cold and thought all starved during monsoon season January-March. Most of them were ill prepared, and don’t have survival knowledge in outdoor activities.

Apart from that I was fully concern about Yeni and Bagja who died while doing basic training. Some thought there were possible violence or physical abused during initiation sessions. But I will only give attention about the length of training and people ability to cope with such harsh condition in the mountain particularly long-term periods.

Yeni and Bagja, both just started to know outdoor activities. Like most of Indonesians like me who got training as early on high school as part of extra curriculum. If you are lucky or really like outdoor you can continue into university level. There will ‘harder’ and prestigious if you graduated from so called basic training and became member of Mapala (Students Organization of Nature Loving).

Indeed, Yeni was died because she was insisted to stay in the village because she was nearly finish. While others ignored the signs of tiredness and hypothermia and her ‘grump’ about stomach cramps. The symptoms were exists not in sudden situations, but grows in matters of hours even days. I read the press release wrote by M Hilman Triandi Sukma who supposed to be responsible on the field. I was amazed by the length of the training which is 9 solid days. It said weather was quite mixed between heavy rain and windy.

For me, nine days are too long for the training. I assumed these poor students did not have outdoor experiences before. Yes it can be hell for them. Learning many thing in outside their comfort zone, living in tents, eating rough food and even survival training in 2.5 days. As a member of training you should submitted letter of consent from parents/guardians and letter from doctor declare that you are fit enough to face the battle with nature and possibly your seniors.

When the weather not in your side, the body react really quickly to adopt the change environment. Wet is the enemy number one. Because once you’ve get wet, your body release calories to keep your body warms. Means eating your body fat and consumptions. If you do outdoor and feeling so tired, your appetite went far. You’ve become lazy taking food, don’t want anything even the best food in the world served in your face.

Then if you lose appetite, not enough food intake you’ve become tired. Wet body leading into bitterly cold and you will start shivering. If that conditions getting worse, yes you get hypothermia.

That’s what I reckons happen on Yeni. She already showed the symptoms, tell her friends about her feeling. But rather follow the strict rule to save her, she’s been allowed to back to camp. The hours gap between that are crucial to keep her warm and well feed.

In the outdoors, things can be wrong. But the knowledge and close examination of our partner are crucial when she/he had to follow order. It’s for their good’s sake, for their own safety.

To : Yeni who loves nature so much it lead into her death.