In the event of any number different of disasters, our access to medical help could be severely reduced, or even nonexistent. In these SHTF scenarios it also means that our public services will be affected as well. No running water, no trash man, no electricity and no grocery stores.
In events like these, we will need to have the ability to treat wounds until we can get further assistance (hopefully) and make sure we reduce the risk of secondary infections, and prevent illness caused by unclean conditions, or unclean supplies.
When things are not as easy as walking into a hospital to get your wounds treated, and we are going to have to make some sacrifices when it comes to the way we expect things to be done. With our state of the art medical services and facility’s in the U.S. it is an expectation that everything is clean and sterile when we visit any medical professional.
When we become the only “medical professional” available, we need to make sure we do everything in our power to make sure everything is clean and sterile as possible to prevent secondary infection. This is easier said than done, because if there are no hospitals (or they are overcrowded) that means something major has happened, and we will be affected as well.
Without power, without running water and without waste removal, conditions can (and will) become unsanitary very quickly. While we can’t control what other people do, we can make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent illness, and reduce the risk of secondary infections.
SPP156 SHTF Wound Care: Safety & Sanitation
Most Common SHTF Illnesses
The book Survival and Austere Medicine gives you a perspective of what may be possible in a long term catastrophic disaster or when working in an austere or remote environment without access to organized or trained medical care.
This book was written in 2005, but covers quite a few first aid topics from medical supplies, to alternative medicine. Click her to download the PDF.
One part of the book that stuck out to me was what some of the common illnesses might be, and how as preppers we might be too focused on the wrong things.
“A recent Internet survey asking about medical risk assessments in a major disaster came up with the following results:
“What do you see as the most likely common source of medical problems?
- Battlefield injuries 5 %
- Lack of surgical care 36 %
- Environmental related 8 %
- Infectious disease (naturally occurring) 64 %
- Infectious disease (biological warfare) 20 %
- Nuclear conflict (radiation, blast, burns) 4 %
What you may have to deal with will depend on what happens. Obviously a nuclear war will produce a different set of problems than a pandemic. However, regardless of whatever the initial triggering event after the initial wave of injuries or illness associated with it the majority of medical problems that happen will be common, and mundane, and not nearly as interesting as the above survey results suggests.”
Secondary Infection & The Civil War
During the Civil War secondary infection resulting from injury’s killed more people than the injury itself. There was a 28% mortality rate for amputations, but a 52% mortality rate from the amputation itself. While we have made great advancements in medicine since 1860, the conditions and supplies could be similar in an SHTF scenario.
Hopefully we won’t need to be amputating any legs, but there are a number of smaller injuries that could turn into bigger injuries if we don’t treat them properly in the first place.
Cleaning, Treatment & Protection For Wounds
If we find ourselves in the position that we need to be the person administering first aid, we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to minimize the risk of secondary infection. Just because something looks clean doesn’t not mean it’s sterile, and ongoing care might be necessary for some wounds.
Clean vs Sterile: An item is sterile when it is made completely free of measurable levels of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungal spores) by a chemical or physical process of sterilization, and clean is the absence of dirt and visible debris.
In the show Lisa and I talked about the 3 stages of wound care and some things we can do to not only help a wound heal quicker, but reduce the risk of infection.
Wound Cleaning: The first step is the most important, you will need to focus on removing the dirt and debris that may have entered the wound. This could be as easy as rinsing off a smaller injury with saline, or getting a little more “down and dirty” with larger wounds.
In the show we talked about instruments to clean out larger wounds, some antiseptics and some of the things we need to understand before we even attempt it.
Wound Treatment: Proper wound treatment starts with cleaning, and then an antiseptic. As anyone who listens to the show knows, Lisa advises you use Silvasorb Jel for preventing bacterial growth that may still be around the wound. Silvasorb is a little more expensive than Neosporin, but well worth it.
Wound Protection: One of the best ways to ensure you have proper wound healing is to use a dressing to cover it completely until it is healed. This will not only help with the healing process, but it will easily protect the wound from contamination, which is essentially one of the greatest dangers it will face.
We went into much more detail about these 3 steps in the show, so for more information on these make sure and listen.
SHTF Sanitation & Prevention
In the show we also talked about how our living conditions can affect our health is a SHTF scenario, and how there are some things we won’t have control over…like what our neighbors do.
In the show we also went over some ideas for removing human waste and trash, and how issues like these that we take for granted could not only be a real pain, but dangerous to our health as well.
Also From the Show
Ask The Rescue Ninja: This week in the show we did a segment called “Ask the Rescue Ninja” (The RN) where Lisa answered some questions our audience had for her. She answered questions about Suturing wounds, poison ivy and using antibiotics. I put these answers on a separate page, and you can view those here. Again, for more detailed answers you can listen to the show.
MeWe Social Media: A member of the Facebook group brought this social media website to our attention, and they boast more privacy than the other big social media sites. You can read more about their privacy here, and sign up for our private group here.
Contest: This month’s contest will be over next week, so make sure and get your entries while you can. This month we are giving away a trauma kit, 2 Tac-Bar ammo cans and 3 PakLite flashlights. Click here to enter the contest.