Obviously, this is a scenario that could be avoided with proper planning and better practices. The best solutions would have been preemptive. Regardless, this scenario is where my question is to be asked from. (...)
Assuming a normal load out (normal clothing, some water, a knife, etc.), what do you do to survive and make it back to a safe place?
I'd say the best planning is to make "a normal load out" adequate to keep you hydrated, fed, and sheltered even if you have to spend the night unexpectedly. On anything more than a casual stroll around the city park, things you should consider carrying include:
- At least 2L of water, preferably 3 in a hot/dry environment.
- Means to purify additional water (I carry chlorine dioxide tablets, they're very small and just go in my first aid kit. They purify a bottle of water in 4 hours.)
- Enough food to survive for a couple days. Throwing extra granola bars in your pack is easy.
- Clothes to stay warm overnight. Temperatures drop at night. It can also rain unexpectedly. Bringing a rain coat, rain pants, fleece jacket, long underwear, gloves, and a warm hat is a good start.
- For longer hikes, I bring a small tarp, for even longer hikes I'd consider a bivvy sack.
- 50' of paracord can help if you need to improvise a shelter. Particularly useful with aformentioned tarp.
- A headlamp is a must.
- A good first aid kit, with more than just band-aids.
Basically, you should look at the 10 essentials, and make sure you have those and some additional gear any time you go out.
Now supposing you're actually well prepared as outlined above, your priorities are going to depend on the climate. In any emergency situation, your first priority should be to treat immediately life-threatening injuries – severe bleeding, etc. Anything that won't kill you in the next hour should wait. Then, sit down, eat a good snack, drink water, and take a rest. It's important to be rested, fed, and mentally prepared to tackle the situation. It's easy to freak out in an emergency, so it's crucial that you force yourself to physically sit down and take care of your most basic needs before proceeding.
Hopefully you have enough food, water, and clothing that you can then focus on treating any injuries enough to enable you to walk for help. If you need to spend the night, look for a sheltered spot before it gets dark. You may need some water to clean the wound, so you should be looking for some additional water to use the purification method you brought with you. In a hot environment, water might be a higher priority than finding shelter. It all depends on the environment and context.
Ultimately, the topic of extended wilderness survival is enough to fill entire books. Many organizations also offer wilderness survival classes which you might be interested in. But the most important thing is to make sure that your "normal load out" is sufficient to support you in the even of an emergency.