The Reality of Emergency Medical Preparedness from a Former Combat Medic

By Selco Begovic

The reality of medical preparedness is that people often waste a lot of money on things that they don’t need or do not know how to use.  The purpose of this article is not to reduce the importance or quality of the previous article about stocking up on medical supplies. I find it more as a continuation of that article, perhaps taking a different angle on medical kits, preps, skills, etc.

First, here is some background on me. I have been in the emergency medical field for many years. Some of those years were as a combat medic, and others were as a civilian without enough medical stash who was still trying to help.

And I still cannot say I can give you definitive advice about many things, simply because many situations are very specific and so on and so on.

BUT some general advice can be said here, and a lot of these tips I have written before. But it needs to be repeated again and again. It can save your life, or life of your family member.

Obtaining medical knowledge

You have to spend a lot of time to become a medical practitioner of any kind. Higher levels requires longer time of learning, testing, practicing, etc.

For some level of confidence in practicing certain skills, I needed many months of learning and long practice. And only after that, I could say, “I know that.” So, what I am trying to say here is this: Do not expect to be a master of survival medicine after one book you read, or a few videos you have watched.

The system of learning is there for a reason: it takes time.

So what can you do?

You have to think outside the box and work smart. You probably do not have time or money or will to spend years to become a physician. But for medical preparedness, you still need to start from the foundation.

The foundation of medical preparedness

Let me be clear. The foundation is not immediately learning some fancy skill, which is very very often useless. The foundation should be knowledge, data, information…and then later skills.

If you jump on YouTube and look for survival medicine skills, or SHTF medicine or similar you’ll find a whole bunch of advice and tons of techniques, but these simply may not work for you.

So my general medical preps advice is to focus on your own settings.

In essence, this means to build your medical preparedness around what kind of medical issues you already have in your home (family, group, etc.) or what kind of medical issues you might expect once when the SHTF.

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That means if you and your husband or someone else in your circle has high blood pressure problems, it makes much more sense to spend your time learning everything about that condition, the drugs that work for it, stocking up on those drugs, reading and researching everything that is available about drug substitutes for that condition for the time when drugs run out, and so on and so on.

All of the above makes much more sense for you to learn before you go on to fancy skills about taking care of an amputated leg. You will need much more often and much earlier everything that you have learned and prepped for your existing medical conditions.

So start from your own medical conditions, then the conditions of people in your family or group, etc. Cover that first as much as possible.

Start with the basics of medical preparedness

Basics. Always start with basics. No matter how that looks irrelevant to you, you’ll see that in real-life SHTF situations that going back to (already learned) basics will save your situation many times.

Cover the basics first very well, learn it well, and stock up well on basic stuff for medical preparedness first. Only after that go up to more complicated skills and preps. Always remember, however cool some prep or skill might look, be marketed, or be presented you need to cover the basics first!

An example of the basics here for me could be hygiene. Cover very well your hygiene preps before going to medical preps. Hygiene (sanitation, disinfection and cleaning…) is very often overlooked in the prepper world and it is the number one thing that will kill you. It is the thing that you gonna have the first problem with once the SHTF.

Check it, test it, learn how to use it.

This goes for most of the medical kits I have seen people own. They simply never test the stuff inside! They have it but have no idea how to use it.

I like to use this comparison here: Most preppers are very familiar with their weapons. They use them often at shooting ranges. They test them, they upgrade them,  they exchange experiences with other preppers about their weapons, and what not…

It makes sense, right, because that gun will save your life?

I very very rarely see people testing stuff from their medical kits and exchanging experiences between themselves (unless we are talking about the fixation about tourniquets in some FB groups).

And your med kit definitely might save your life, right?

But you never tested how good is that compression bandage or those scissors from the bag – are they useful? Have you ever tested how logically everything is organized in your bag? How easy is it to go through all that gear in an emergency in order to find something very quickly?

Test it!

Make your own medical kit.

DO things (prepare, stock up, learn…) that work for YOU”

Memorize the words above! Preparing for SHTF can be general in some things. It can be understanding the principles of certain topics. Everything else is very personalized. So when it comes to your medical stash or medical kits, make your own. I have seen hundreds of first aid kits owned by my students. Probably 95 percent of those were cheap junk, brand new, and never tested.

And preppers bought it probably because they read the list of what is inside it, not by checking out what that means in reality.

Here are two examples of what was in the medical kit, and what should be.

On the left side are “emergency scissors” found in a prepackaged first-aid kit. On the right side is what you should have actually.

The small “medical tape” is found in a prepackaged kit. The big one is actually “medical tape.”

Medications

This topic needs to be simplified on few things basically:

Start with the foundation again. That means you need to start with knowledge, too; and, no, you do not have to have years of medical school because we are talking about the SHTF, so you’ll use shortcuts.

Foundation means knowledge first, so start with some basic books about how drugs work, in what dosage, to what patients, and so on and so on.

So get a book like this one: Nursing 2022 Drug Handbook.

You are doing it at your own risk, of course, because you are not a trained medical professional. You’re going to have a higher chance to make mistakes BUT we are talking about the SHTF here, and most probably about situations where you gonna be only and highest medical help available.

So, of course, risks are there but what else can you do?

There are many over-the-counter medications you can find on this list that can help with less serious issues.

Specific skills

After covering the basics and foundation, there are skills you should learn. Now, there are cool skills and skills that are maybe not cool but very important.

Again, of course, you should not do IV medicine administration, and it is against the law if you are not a medical practitioner.

But guess what?

Nobody is gonna care once the SHTF. So, yes, if it is possible, learn it. It is not rocket science. Some risks are there, but if you are not ready to take risks you’ll learn nothing.

How is your medical preparedness?

Is your medical kit specific to your family? Have you gotten any advanced training? Have you ever used your tools or opened the packages? Or is everything in a neatly packaged, pre-made kit?

Let us discuss medical preparedness in the comments.

Source: The Organic Prepper

Selco survived the Balkan war of the ’90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. 

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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