Emergency First Aid

When I went to Colorado State I took a class called “Emergency First Aid.”  We spent a full semester practicing different scenarios, including a practical final set up in a gym. The place was set up to be a Honduran village.  We had to perform triage on ‘people’ (CPR dummies) who had been in a village that had been shelled in a conflict between the Contras and the Sandinistas (you younger folks might need to look that up). At the end of the course we were certified in both CPR and emergency first aid. Since then, I have used the Heimlich maneuver once to save someone from choking, but fortunately I have not had cause to use the rest of the skills I learned.

After yesterday’s attack in Boston, I was impressed by the number of people who rushed into harms way to help those injured in the bomb blasts. The most severe injuries appeared to be limb injuries. I saw pictures that were absolutely horrific; lower limbs completely shredded, feet missing, blood vessels dangling from fleshless bone. Quick thinking people used lanyards from ID badges as tourniquets and no doubt they saved lives with that decisive action.

If you do not know how to use a tourniquet, there’s a good article about it here. The focus of the article is really about improvising a tourniquet from available materials. This is good information to have as you may find yourself in a situation like the one in Boston where you are scrambling to save a life when someone has suffered a major trauma and you only have materials at hand to use in triage.

In the context of ZPOC, you will have your go-bag (or a smaller subset from the go-bag which I call your supply bag) with you at all times, and every bag should have a basic medical kit. There are a number of things that kit should contain, but a couple of things I recommend for major trauma are Quik-Clot and the Israeli bandage. The Israeli bandage is a very versatile tool to have. It functions as a pressure bandage, which when combined with Quik Clot should help stop the blood flow from a wound. If it does not, and a tourniquet is needed, the Israeli bandage also functions in that capacity as well.  Here’s a video on how to use it.

If you haven’t started your go-bag, these are a couple of low cost items you can order and you’ll be more prepared than you were yesterday. Ideally you will never have to use them, but it’s better to have them and not need them than the other way around.

And, before ZPOC hits, you should look at taking a class that gets you certified in emergency first aid. The skills are valuable no matter who you are or what you do for a living now, but when the SHTF you’ll be an asset to whatever group you find yourself stuck with, and being an asset is critical to surviving the human component of ZPOC. More on that in a later post.

Until next time, better dead than Zed!

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