Medical preparedness refers to the ability of a population to deal with sickness and injuries in tough times. Of course, anyone wishing to survive must first have food, water, and a shelter of some sort. Certainly, a full stomach and protection from the elements will be the top priority. What, then, should be next on the list?
After gathering food and building a shelter, many prepared individuals consider personal and home defense to be the most important priority in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. The imperative to defend one’s family is, of course, not to be ignored. It must be understood, however, that a bullet can cause a wound but cannot heal one. Therefore, a strategy to deal with illness and injury must be formulated to give a community the best chance to survive.
In a situation where power might be down and normal methods of filtering water and cleaning food don’t exist, health is as much under attack as the survivors in the latest zombie apocalypse movie. Infectious diseases will be rampant in a situation where it will be a challenge to maintain sanitary conditions. Simple activities of daily survival, such as chopping wood, will commonly lead to minor wounds that could easily get infected. These issues, so easily treated by modern medical science, can become life-threatening if left untreated in a disaster scenario.
Despite this fact, most “well-prepared” individuals have done little to consider health issues in times of trouble. Accomplished outdoorsmen will have plenty of food and their share of defensive weaponry. Few wilderness devotees, however, would be ready to deal with the medical problems they would encounter if left to their own devices. The difficulties involved in a grid-down situation will surely put the health of a entire family or mutual assistance group at risk. It’s only logical to seek education and training to treat infectious disease and the other ailments.
There will likely be a lot more diarrheal disease, for example, than gunfights in a survival setting. History teaches us that, in the Civil War, there were more deaths from dysentery than there were from bullet wounds. Some say “Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids”, but I say “Beans and Band-Aids, then Bullets”. I suppose, coming from a physician, that’s not too surprising. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that a survivor will, at one point, be responsible for healing the sick and treating wounds.
If a commitment is made to learn how to treat medical issues, you’ve taken a genuine first step towards assuring your family’s survival in dark times. A solid plan for the accumulation of appropriate medical supplies must go hand-in-hand with all other preparations made for the uncertain future. Those supplies will always be there if the unforeseen happens, and the knowledge gained will be there for the rest of your life. It should be noted that many medical supplies have long shelf lives; their longevity will be one of the factors that will give you confidence when moving forward. Also, do not ignore their value as barter items. In a long-term survival situation, they will more useful and sought-after than bars of gold bullion.
When I say to obtain medical knowledge, I am also encouraging you to learn about natural remedies and alternative therapies that may have some benefit for a particular medical problem. I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of every claim that one thing or another will cure what ails you. Suffice it to say that our family has planted an extensive medicinal garden and that it might be a good idea for everyone to do the same. Many herbs that have medicinal properties grow like weeds; a green thumb is not required to cultivate them. Many of them do not even require full sun to thrive. Some research into medicinal herbs and what plants might do well in your specific climate is imperative. This should be done before disaster hits, in order to have a thriving garden when it is most needed.
It’s important to understand that some illnesses will be difficult to treat if modern medical facilities aren’t available. It will be hard to do much about those clogged coronary arteries; there won’t be many cardiac bypasses performed. However, by eating healthily and getting good nutrition, you will give yourself the best chance to minimize some major medical issues. In a survival situation, an ounce of prevention is worth, not a pound, but a ton of cure. Start off healthy and you’ll have the best chance to stay healthy.
This is not a new and novel idea: Your ancestors included it as part of their strategy to succeed in life. In a collapse, Society will be thrown back, in a way, to that era. There are lessons to be learned from the methods they used to stay healthy. A discussion of the various plants with antibiotic properties can be found later in this book.
On a personal note: Some members of my family wonder why I spend all my time trying to prepare people medically for a major disaster. Despite a long human history of lethal infectious diseases, they are totally certain that there is no scenario that would take away, even for a while, the wonders of high technology. They see the hospital on their way to work and they have health insurance, so what could happen? As such, my family is truly puzzled when they read my books and articles. They tell me that I can’t turn everyone into doctors, so why I should try?
So I asked myself: Am I trying to turn you all into doctors? No, there’s too much to learn in one lifetime; even as a physician, I often come across things I’m not sure about. That’s what medical books are for, so make sure that you put together a survival library. You can refer to them when you need to, just as I do.
I AM trying to turn you into something, however: I’m trying to make you a better medical asset to your family and community than you were before. I firmly believe that, even if you have not undergone a formal medical education, you can learn how to treat the majority of problems you will encounter in a grid-down situation. You can, if you absolutely have to, be the end of the line with regards to the medical well-being of your people.
My mission is to help the non-medical professional deal with medical issues after a catastrophe. This is, I firmly believe, not a fool’s quest. If you can absorb the information on this website, you will be in a position to deal with most survivable emergencies when the worst happens. Maybe, one day, you might even save a life; if that happens just once, my mission will have been accomplished.
Joe Alton, M.D. aka Dr. Bones of www.doomandbloom.net