Navy warships fight battles; they attack the enemy and defend against enemy attacks. During a battle, they constantly resort to damage control so they may continue to fight. Even when a ship is unable to attack any longer, damage control helps keep a ship afloat until the enemy is out of ammo or assistance arrives. Every sailor knows and practices the principles of damage control, so, when damage control is needed, they will be prepared.
Personal damage control
When you are attacked and cannot fight, effectively resist, or escape, then you must resort to damage control, where you protect your vital areas and pray that your attacker will stop the attack or help will arrive.
If you are knocked unconscious, you have no control over how and where you are being hit. Damage control means staying conscious and aware of where your attackers are and what they are about to do to you. You try to prevent being hit in vital areas and to control where you are being hit so you do not receive injuries that may cause long-term, permanent disabilities, or even death.
Get into a damage control position
- Drop. Drop to the ground before you are knocked out or thrown there.
- Curl. Lie on one side and curl into a ball or fetal position, tuck your chin and pull your knees up tight to your chest.
- Protect your head. To survive, you must remain conscious. To remain conscious, you must protect your head. The brain sort of floats inside the skull and can move around a little. Due to the back of the brain being attached to the spine, it may move sideways more than forward or backward. An object at rest tends to remain at rest, so, when the skull is struck, it moves but the brain tends to remain motionless. The space between the brain and skull is narrow on the sides, so side impacts mean the skull has a more of a chance of crashing into the brain before it can move. Also, the sides of the skull are relatively thin, especially at the temple areas. This all means that it is vital that you protect the sides of the head.
- While lying on your side in the fetal position, hold your arms with the hands held in fists to the sides of the head.
- Keep the elbows pointed forward to protect against blows to the face.
- Move the lower arm under your head, between the side of your head and the ground, so its fist is protecting the back of your neck.
- Position the upper arm so the forearm arm lies across the ear with the fist protecting the neck and spine.
- The top of your head will be exposed, but, since it is a thick, bony, spherical shape, it can take more blows than the sides, front, or back of the skull.
- Protect other vital areas. While curled, try to touch your chest with your chin and your forehead with your knees. This way your legs protect most of your vital organs. The only exposed vital areas are the lower ribs and kidney area on the upper side. If you are hit in one of these areas, you will naturally want to move your arm and hand away from your head to protect that area, but you must keep them in place to keep protecting your head. If one of these areas is injured, rollover to expose the other side.
Two ways to protect the exposed side of your body without compromising your head defenses are:
- Tense your abdominal muscles to make your torso more solid.
- Roll onto your back with your arms and legs still in their defensive positions. However, if you roll onto your back, you may be kicked on the side of your head, which is more dangerous than kicks to the front or back of the head.
- Yell. Yell or scream to alert others, or, if deemed necessary, be silent and play dead.
Damage control means fall, curl, protect the head and vital areas, and use your feet to rotate your body so that you do not get hit more than once or twice in the same place. Try to take most of the blows on your legs.
Remember, damage control is a last resort. If you can defend yourself or escape, then by all means do so. However, when you are out of other options, curl and protect, ignore the pain, and pray.