This is a huge topic, but we have to start somewhere.
Seeding this list from here:
Any preparedness strategy would be incomplete without taking a multi-pronged approach. Of the several prongs included in such a strategy, medical equipment, supplies, and skills are vital to include. It seems like every time I am in one of the big box stores I notice that there are usually a couple of plastic boxes filled with band-aids that are labeled as first aid kits. The problem with these kits is that they are best suited for decoration and not saving the life of another person. Such a basic kit is great for patching up paper cuts but it won’t handle heavy bleeding, fractures, or breathing difficulties.
As a prepper, when it comes to your medical preparedness, it takes a concentrated effort to assemble a functional medical kit capable of handling the challenges you may face. Any number of injuries and health conditions should be able to be addressed with a preppers medical kit, thus reinforcing the idea that off the shelf first aid kits are not adequate. Just because someone says it is a tool, doesn’t make it the right tool for the job.
Equipment & Supplies
A variety of equipment and supplies should be considered for inclusion in your kit. The centralized principle around your kit, and medical kits in general, should be the ability to treat the injuries that you are most likely to encounter. So, if you do a lot of climbing like re-roofing the homestead, your primary concern might be falls. This makes it a good idea to consider including medical supplies that can be used to treat orthopedic injuries like sprains and fractures.
The most important thing behind knowing the concerns you face is that your medical kit is capable of treating common injuries and life threats along with knowing that whoever the person is going to use the kit being proficient in using the kit’s contents.
A prepper’s medical kit will vary from person to person but should address the following areas at a minimum: Airway/Breathing, Blood Control, Orthopedic Injuries, Wound Care/Misc, and Monitoring & Diagnostics.
An example of the bare minimum medical kit (enough to treat one or more casualties for an individual or family prepper might look like this:
- 1 Each – Nasopharyngeal Airway
- 1 Each – Water Soluble Lubricant (Package)
- 2 Each – Chest Seals (Hyfin, Bolin, HALO, etc.)
- 1 Each – Tourniquet (Special Operations Forces Tactical – Tourniquet or Combat Application Tourniquet)
- 2 Each – Emergency Trauma Dressing (6”)
- 1 Each – Emergency Trauma Dressing, Abdominal
- 1 Package – QuikClot (50 Gram or 2X 25 Gram)
- 1 Each – Kerlix Gauze Dressing
- 10 Each – Band-Aids (Assorted Sizes)
- 10 Each – 2 X 2 Gauze Pads
- 5 Each – 4 X 4 Gauze Pads
- 2 Each – Steri-Strips or Butterfly Closures
- 1 Each – ACE Wrap – ACE Wrap (6”)
- 1 Each – SAM Splint
- 1 Each – Cravat (Triangular Bandage)
- 1 Each – Syringe (10 cc)
- 5 Pair – Exam Gloves
- 1 Each – Waterproof Medical Tape (1” or Larger)
- 1 Tube – Antibiotic Ointment
- 10 Each – Alcohol Pads
- 1 Each – Trauma Shears
- 1 Each – Headlamp
- 1 Each – Space Blanket
- 2 Each – One Gallon Freezer Bags
Monitoring & Diagnostics
- 1 Each – Pulse Oximeter (You get what you pay for!)
- 1 Each – Stethoscope
- 1 Each – Electronic Blood Pressure Monitor
- 1 Each – Pen Light
All of these items are designed to be used for a specific purpose and for the most part, only a minimal amount of research and/or training is required to make all of this work (YouTube University is Great! But choose wisely.). Items that can be used for more than one purpose are even better.
Competence is imperative, especially when in reference to medical skills. A rogue practitioner of medicine is a danger to himself, but mostly others. This is the reality of medicine. All said, while there are dangers, some risks can be mitigated through training and practice.
Some ways to minimize risk/harm when providing medical care:
- Do not attempt to use unfamiliar supplies or equipment and make sure that you practice how they are used and study what it is used for.
- If there is more risk associated with the situation and the involved parties than the procedure will offer, postpone treatment at a minimum.
- Even if you have the skillset, do not allow yourself to feel like you must do something that you are uncomfortable with.
- Consider networking with others who have medical skills as a way to mitigate at least some risk.
- If possible, consider going through medical training with your group as a way to alleviate the responsibility of all medical care being performed by one person. This is also important to have if something happens to the group medic.
- It is also a good idea to have hard copies of medical related books on hand as a reference.
One of the leading books on medicine for the prepper today is The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide For When Help Is Not On The Way by Dr. Joseph Alton AKA “Dr. Bones.” It has received much praise and many positive reviews.
I also think that having knowledge of pharmaceuticals or at least access to this information is paramount. A good reference does not have to be expensive either. One of my favorite references is the Tarascan Pocket Pharmacoepia because it is compact enough to put in a pocket. Having information about medications can help you understand what a person is taking or if you are able to scavenge medications, you can look them up and see what they are for.
Here are a few other suggestions:
- Wilderness Medicine by Paul S. Auerbach – Not cheap, but it is an invaluable resource.
- Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook
- Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse: First Aid Kit Building & Mini Med School For Preppers
- Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils & Natural Remedies For When There Is No Doctor
- Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook
Where can you get these skills?
Short of attending specialty training to become a certified health professional, you likely will not learn advanced procedures. The good news is that there are options out there to learn foundational skills in the medical arena. A simple internet search can reveal several of these opportunities that are available in your local area to get medical training. Some to consider include:
- Preparedness Expos – Many expositions and conferences geared toward preppers typically feature speakers and breakout sessions about medical subjects and skills. These can be either lectures or hands-on demonstrations.
- CERT training / volunteer as a Firefighter – While rewarding to give back and safeguard the welfare of your local community, this is also a viable way to learn emergency medical skills.
- First Aid Training Courses – The American Red Cross is one of the most prominent providers of basic first aid training and while basic, you will learn what you need to get started.
- Tactical Training Schools – It is becoming more and more popular for firearm and tactical training programs to include the management of traumatic injuries, especially the ones that may be inflicted by a firearm.
- Wilderness Schools – Many outdoor training programs usually offer a training path that concentrates on wilderness and emergency medicine.
Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all solution for ensuring that you or your family have the skills necessary to ensure proper medical coverage for everyone. What is true is that it is better to have the skills and not need them. If you have a problem and don’t have a solution, things can go very bad. The need for medical care will never go away. Arm yourself with the supplies and skills now while things are better off.