Surviving One Year in Hell Interview With Selco

Those of you who know about Selco of SHTFSchool already know this is a must listen to episode. For those of you who don’t, you are in for a treat. We all do our best to think about all the different aspects of preparing for a large scale SHTF event, and hearing from someone who has actually been through it can help us do that.

Imagine for a second that our country is in deep financial and political crisis, and several states are contemplating seceding from the union. Because of this, the national government decides to cut off all supply lines, electricity, and critical infrastructure until your state comes to it’s senses.

You may be thinking that something like this happening here in the United States is highly unlikely, but something very similar to this scenario happened a little over 150 years ago… It was called the Civil War. While a “Civil War” in the typical sense is highly unlikely, there are many scenarios that would have the same consequences.

This is basically what happened during the Balkan Wars in communist Yugoslavia, which emerged shortly after the end of World War II, was made up of six republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. The town where Selco lived was held under siege for over a year in what he calls “One Year in Hell”.

SPP255 Surviving One Year in Hell: Interview With Selco of SHTFSchool


In this weeks show, I had the chance to pick Selco’s brain about bartering, food, water, looting, rioting and a number of other issues he experienced during a true SHTF situation.

The Realities of a SHTF situation

Below are some of the topics we covered in this weeks show, I included a short description of his answer, but I highly suggest you listen to the full show.

Question: What was the population of the town/village you lived in? (urban/suburban/rural)

Answer: Selco lived in an area that encompassed both urban and suburban areas.

Question: On your website you talk about “1 year in hell” Can you explain why that year was so much worse.

Answer: The Balkan Wars lasted a little over 4 years, but that 1 year the town was under siege, meaning no supplies and resources were getting in or out.

Question: People always talk about the time frame when things go from bad to worse, how long did it take for things to escalate? (looters, crime, gangs, hungry people etc…)

Answer: The answer is not so simple, but smaller things like looting happened very quickly, and some things took some time to develop.

Question: What are some things you did to get food, water, energy, supplies etc? (did you have to go out and find things, and what did you do?)

Answer: This was quite a detailed answer, but for the most part everything we think about with a SHTF scenario is accurate. Rain catchment, bartering for food, and burning wood taken from the walls of your home was common place.

Question: People always talk about hunting and foraging in a SHTF scenario, how realistic is that, and did you ever do it?

Answer: After a short time there was nothing to hunt, and dogs roaming around became a food source. As far as foraging, it was done, but there wasn’t much available.

Question: As preppers we think about bartering supplies all the time. How necessary was bartering, and what was most commonly used for barter?

Answer: Bartering was an absolute necessity for survival. Selco was an RN, so along with bartering his skills, smaller items like lighters and batteries were commonly used for barter.

Question: What was the availability of guns and ammunition during that 1 year in hell?

Answer: It was interesting to me that he mentioned that guns and ammo actually became more available as time went on. Even though the town was under siege, that didn’t stop the black market and smuggling.

Question: How important was having family, friends or a group in your situation?

Answer: This may not come as a surprise, but he talked about how important it was, and why. There were many times we became sick, and if he was going the “lone wolf” route there would have been no one to get him food, scavenge for supplies, or even take guard duty.

Question: Without water, electricity, and supplies, how difficult was it for people to get medical attention?

Answer: Medical attention was very hard to come by, and in most cases you were on your own. While there were some medical supplies from the black market, sanitation and cleanliness were huge issues.

Question: Without running water and people dying how big of an issue was sanitation and disease?

Answer: Selco stated that the people who were alive were more of a concern than the people who had died. Without running water people were very dirty and sickness, infections and disease could become deadly.

Question: How did he keep his mind focused on surviving? Was there a point he thought that all of his efforts might be hopeless?

Answer: This was another interesting answer from Selco, he said he basically gave up hope. By this he didn’t mean he totally “gave up”, but he started thinking about what was happening that day, rather than hoping for someone to come save them.

Question: How different do you think you would handle things now if you were put in that same type of situation?

Answer: There are quite a few decisions he would make differently, and also quite a few things he has learned since then. This is why he created the SHTFSchool website and put together some of the courses he has.

More About Selco…

Along with putting articles out from time to time, Selco also has a forum at his website and the “Survival Boot Camp” course that goes into practical and proven survival skills. When you order the Survival Boot Camp course, you also get the older “1 Year in Hell” Course he has at


Survival and being prepared should not only be a passion, it should be a lifestyle. The definition of a prepper is "An individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances, without substantial resources from outside sources" Like the Government, police etc. I don't believe that the end of the world will be the "end of the world" I believe it will be the end of the world as we know it now. You can also find me on Google Plus and Twitter

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