Sunday, November 18, 2012

Survival Medicine

   This week RMI was asked to give a talk on the medical aspects of survival. It is a subject that can range from the gun toting, fear-based, bunker living survivalist found in Montana and it can mean the permaculture, polytunnel living, hippy types.
   Survival Medicine is found somewhere between these two very different approaches to surviving the coming emergency.

   Survival and Austere medicine is the provision of medical care without access to modern investigations or technology.
   As is the case with any aspects of medical treatment you need to decide what you are preparing for and plan accordingly. For some it will only be a 72-hour crisis, for others it will be a major long-term event, and for yet others a multiple generation scenario. Your medical preparations will need to reflect your own risk assessments in terms of what knowledge and skills you develop and what supplies/equipment/medicines you store. This article is more slanted towards preparation for medium to longer term disasters. But most of the included information is applicable to shorter situations as well. 

   The Top 20 Wilderness Injuries:
  1. Minor musculoskeletal injuries (ankle sprains most common)
  2. Upper respiratory tract infections
  3. Allergic reactions/Hay fever/Anaphylactic reactions/Rashes
  4. Minor open wounds
  5. Gastroenteritis/Vomiting/Diarrhoea
  6. Sexual health/Contraceptive problems
  7. Skin infections/Cellulitis
  8. Mental health problems
  9. Dental problems
  10. Abdominal pain (2 confirmed acute appendix + 1 gangrenous gall
    bladder; no cause found. Renal or biliary colic were most common)
  11. Flu/Viral illness
  12. Chest infections
  13. Major musculoskeletal injuries (fractures/dislocations)
  14. Asthma
  15. Ear infections
  16. Urinary tract infections
  17. Chest pain
  18. Syncope/Collapse/Faints
  19. Early pregnancy problems
  20. Burns 

   It is important to have the skills and experience to be able to assess and treat these medical emergencies in a survival or deep wilderness situation. 

   Take a hard look at this list. Do you, as a medical professional feel that you are capable to deal with these situations? How about if you do not have your ambulance near by? If you are a first responder are you willing to handle these situations?

   If you said no to this question you need to start thinking about how you can prepare yourself for an emergency in a survival situation. 

   I can hear what you are saying: "I live in Dublin. When would I ever be in a survival situation?." Natural disasters can hit anywhere. Here in Ireland we had a rough ice storm a few years back. There was no road travel in my county. We had two vehicles in the entire county that could move. What would happen if your neighbour had a medical emergency during that time?

   Preparation. You have heard of the seven 'Ps'. Proper Prior Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance. Prepare yourself, your family and your community for the survival medical emergency.

   Here is the first book that you should have for your reading: Survival and Austere Medicine. This book is free. Go ahead and download it. Read through it and learn. No matter if you are a doctor or a first aider, you will learn something from this book.

   When you are ready for more information look around the web. There are plenty of youtube videos and websites that will give you some good training on Survival Medicine.

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