Thursday, September 6, 2018

National Preparedness Month Day 6--First Aid

We use basic first aid skills all the time.  Your kid falls down, you disinfect the injury and put a band aid on it.  You have a headache, you take a Tylenol.  In order to add to your preparedness "tool box" you will need the following things to up your first aid game:
  • A comprehensive first aid kit in your house (with items you know how to use).  As you gain first aid skills and knowledge, add items to the kit that correspond to your level of training.  I've seen people ask on forums where to find ET tubes and spreaders but have absolutely no advanced first aid training.  That is both a waste of money and a possible law suit.
  • A good first aid kit for your car.  Yes we are being redundant but you may need first aid supplies when you are away from home.  This kit doesn't need to be as comprehensive as your home kit but it should still be pretty thorough.
  • Smaller first aid kits for: your EDC (everyday carry bag), your BOB (bug out bag), your backpack, your RV, your boat, etc.
  • Books on first aid, both the book kind and the e-book kind.  You can Google for free e-books on the topic (example) and often find good deals on used first aid books to keep at home in the event that your tablet/computer with your e-books on it becomes unusable.
  • Basic first aid training.  Many community organizations (Red Cross, fire departments, hospitals, etc) offer basic first aid classes which cover things like CPR/AED/basic first aid skills, often for free.
  • Advanced first aid training.  To really get a handle on how to deal with first aid emergencies when you are the only person around, consider getting advanced first aid training either by taking a course (example) or by becoming a volunteer EMT (two-month EMT school is often paid for by the agency you volunteer for).  The great thing about becoming an EMT, besides helping out communities that desperately need help in this area, is that you get field experience which you won't come by in any other situation unless you are a medic in the military.
  • Even more advanced training.  Those with a career in medical care get some pretty useful lifesaving skills courtesy of their job.  Nurses, paramedics, doctors, surgeons...the time and money commitment to achieve these levels of training is pretty big but so is the skill set you end up with.
  • Necessary medication.  If you take prescription or over-the-counter medications, strive for an extra 90 day supply to have on hand in the event of a major disaster.  Remember to rotate this medication so it doesn't expire.
  • Grow medicinal herbs in your garden.  These are good standbys to have in case of emergency.  Of course, learn how to use these herbs appropriately and knowledgeably.
  • Consider other options in case of emergency.  The most obvious option is to evacuate the ill person ahead of any disaster so there is no interruption in critical medical care.  I've heard that some people will use easier to acquire animal antibiotics when they can't get a prescription for human antibiotics (I don't recommend this unless the only other option is death).  I've also seen "homestead medicine" in action (generally do it yourself sutures and the like...also not really recommended but generations of people lived through such experiences).  Prescription pain killers are always good to have in an emergency but getting the prescription can often be difficult because of the possibility of misuse (opiod epidemic and all that).
  • Specialized first aid gear.  I think community-placed AEDs are a great idea.  These are pretty spendy but in the proper location (gyms, golf courses, first responder vehicles) they can save a life.  Some people choose to buy such gear for their own home, however this is usually done because of a known medical issue with a family member as opposed to having one "just in case".
  • Volunteer for medical-related events just for the experience.  You often don't need credentialed medical skills to volunteer at community medical-related events like health fairs, vaccination clinics, disaster medical drills, etc.  These are interesting learning opportunities and also give you some good contacts in the medical community.
  • If you or a family member are chronically ill, make a plan with your healthcare providers (doctor, home health aid, caregiver, etc) for what would happen during a disaster (oxygen delivery, medication delivery, long-term insulin storage, is remote-access care a possibility, etc).  And make the plan triple redundant.
  • Keep copies of you and your family members' detailed medical histories, allergies, vaccinations, current prescriptions, doctor's name, health insurance info, etc. with your emergency planning documents (or stuck on the fridge in the case of an elderly or ill family member who lives alone so it will be easily accessible to first responders in the event of an emergency).
  • Find out, in advance, if your community will set up shelter space for medically fragile people during a disaster.  Some communities do, some don't. 
  • Have a list of all local medical services in your area: hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, fire departments, etc.

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