Many of us keep checklists for preparedness. We keep them in our heads and on paper.Food? Check. Water filtration? Check. Bug-out location? Check. First aid? …First aid!?
If this has happened to you, don’t worry. For some reason, it happens to a lot of us in our preparedness journeys. We often overlook first aid because we envision ourselves being as healthy (or relatively so) as we are now in a crisis. But as we know, that’s not always the case. Emergencies are often physically demanding. If the situation is chaotic, injuries can easily happen to you or your crew. High stress can also be taxing on your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness.
Allow me to also put this in the context of our world today. Just this week, a report was released about FEMA’s reserve workforce – the “frontlines” that are called upon during national disasters. It turns out that FEMA is understaffed – way understaffed. Near 50% understaffed. Last year, records show that FEMA had 6,656 workers available to be deployed at the beginning of hurricane season. This year? Just 3,865.
This emphasizes the need for all aspects of preparedness. However, if there’s a medical need during a crisis, you can become desperate if you can’t help yourself. So it’s important to focus on this need. Food, water and shelter are ingrained in us to provide. Medicine and first aid used to be, before doctors and 24-hour emergency rooms around every corner. We just have to relearn it.
With that, here are my 3 tips for thinking about building you personal preparedness plan.
#1: Knowledge. Many people feel afraid to build a preparedness medical plan because they feel they don’t know enough to help when it is needed.
Of course, your preparedness plan should not require a trip to medical school. But there are many ways to learn about first aid and medical needs that are time and cost-effective.
Books are where I started. My personal favorite is The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide. I have a copy with my emergency first aid. I also keep a copy on my bookshelf for occasional re-reading – it’s always good to brush up.
There are also many courses available for you to take. Many are available through your local Red Cross, community colleges and wilderness outfitters. These take more of a time investment. The cost varies depending on what you want to learn. It would be good for someone in your crew or family to take some of these courses. Then that information can be disseminated by the person who took the course.
One note of caution: be wary of information you find on the internet. I realize this may sound hypocritical – but I’m warning you from experience. I won’t even tell you the bad advice I read, out of shame and not wanting to perpetuate it further.
There’s a reason I’m not providing specific medical advice here. I am not a medical professional. I have knowledge, but it would be irresponsible of me to try to teach it to a public audience. I can, however, point you in the right direction.
Onto tip 2…
To administer first aid, supplies are often a given. Sure, if the situation calls for it you will want to know how to improvise a bandage or stitches, but ready-made, sterile supplies are a much better bet.
Pre-assembled first-aid kits are a great way to amass and store a lot of supplies. They’re portable and lightweight and should go everywhere you store other emergency provisions. First-aid kits are critical, but beyond that, you want to personalize your supplies.
First, you want to think about the unique demands of a disaster or crisis. A lot of first-aid kits are designed to get you through until real medical help arrives. If we know that help might not come, we need to up our ante beforehand. Things like hemostatic powder to stop bleeding. Giving someone stitches in a crisis may be near impossible for a number a factors, so something fast-acting and convenient would be a high priority.
Second, you want to think about you and your family’s individual medical needs. You’ll need a plan for regular medications, if they take them. Talk with your doctor and honestly explain your preparedness journey and they should be understanding. This is the most important part of building your supplies. Make sure you know everyone’s medical needs that you are preparing for. The last thing you want is to be surprised by that in a crisis.
This brings us to our 3rd and final tip for today.
#3: Practice. Regular readers of the Survival Scout may be sick of hearing this, but as always, practice is a relevant and essential tip to emergency medical planning.
However, it’s a bit trickier, isn’t it? Obviously, intentionally injuring yourself or your family is no way to get some first-aid practice in.
You might have to get creative – use an old stuffed animal or doll.
You might not – my grandchildren seem to find a way to scrape or cut themselves every day since school’s been out. This of course, is real practice. But without the additional stress of a crisis. Just keep that in mind next time you apply a bandage to a wound. You are preparing yourself for more demanding times.
Quiz yourself and family members on the medical knowledge you’ve learned and shared – another great way to practice.
These three tips, learning, stocking up, and practicing, will get you well on your way to prepare for any first-aid or medical situation in a crisis.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful in approaching your own personal plan.
Have a great weekend folks, and stay alert out there!
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply