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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Preps: No Medical Services

As we've stated before, in our view, Emergency Preparedness needs to focus more on limiting negative impacts to disasters than on preparing for specific events (earthquake, hurricane, etc.).  We discussed that philosophy and those Twelve Impacts in an earlier post.  You can see all of the items in the series to this point by clicking the 12 Impacts label category.

We're going to drill down into one of the twelve impacts:  No Access to Professional Medical Services. 

It is pretty amazing how dependent we've become on EMTs, Paramedics, Nurses and Doctors.  More disturbing, is how dependent we've become on prescription medications.  Instead of fixing the cause of the problem, we've been trained to take a pill, and the problem magically goes away.

What are some of the possible impacts if all of this "Medical Safety Net" goes away or is so overburdened that it can't respond to all people needing assistance?
  • Mass deaths - plagues or pandemics can result in massive numbers of death - May spawn quarantines or other restrictions for those infected or possibly infected.  Similar treatment can be expected for biological and radiological exposures.
  • Loss of emergency medical services –  For the treatments ranging from broken bones to gun shot wounds to shock or exposure, may not be available, resulting in permanent injury or disfiguration, or death.
  • Loss of health maintenance - Services such as dialysis, physical therapy, mental health therapy – may be curtailed or eliminated.
  • Unavailable medicines – Not having access to prescription medicines and Over The Counter treatments can have results ranging from mild discomfort to death.

Consider medications.  What prescription medications do you or a family member take every single day?  Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes?  What about "mental health" medicines for anxiety or other similar ailments?

Anyone taking pain medications for rheumatoid arthritis, back pains or other injuries?  It seems like half the people I know have a puffer for asthma or some other lung ailment.

What will you do if you have an infection and can't get penicillin or other antibiotics?

We fairly feast on Over The Counter (OTC) medications.  Tylenol, ibuprofen, aspirin, cough syrup, Pepto, Tums, Preparation H, Midol, contact lens solution, Ben-gay, Benadryl.  The list is endless.

What would you do if these were suddenly unavailable?

If you broke a bone, or were knocked unconscious and bleeding from the head, would anyone in your group know what to do other than call 911?  An unattended absessed tooth, or infected cut on your body can kill you in a matter of days.  Would YOU know what to do?

Think about how many lives are dependent upon ongoing medical services.  Chemo and radiation for cancer patients.  Kidney dialysis.  Maintaining insulin pumps and Pacemakers.

Accept The Challenge

TEOTWAWKI does not have to happen for medical services to be unavailable.  Emergencies can happen at a soccer field, while camping or while driving cross-country.  You may be forced to be the, "Medic On Call".

Build a home and portable medical kit.  In addition to the usual assortment of bandages, wraps and salves, include splints, temporary dental fillings, pain relievers, antibiotic creams and at least 2 of every OTC medication you currently have in your medicine cabinet.

Educate yourself on herbal medicines and remedies.  There are an amazing number of "old school" balms, tinctures and salves that can be prepared with materials found in nature.

If you or someone in your family is dependent upon prescription medications, investigate natural alternatives NOW, while you have the opportunity to educate yourself.  Talk to your doctor NOW to see if any of these alternatives might be viable in an emergency.  While you're there, ask about getting a 60 or 90 day supply of your current meds for emergencies.  It can't hurt to ask.

Get off the medication dependency by making a Lifestyle change NOW.  Many types of cholesterol medication, for instance, are only needed because people won't change what or how they eat.  Don't be forced into going "cold turkey".

And at the very least, take a basic Red Cross first aid course.  Learn what you can do to help keep someone alive, or how to minimize their trauma until help can arrive.

Here's a beta version of a PSA we're putting together on preps to help motivate you -

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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