Disaster Preparedness: Medical Skills to Learn for an Emergency

After a major disaster – whether man-made or natural, your overall survival will depend heavily on your ability to think on your feet and make quick decisions. It’s true, having things like food, water, gas, and other supplies after a disaster is key to your survival, but knowledge will be the real necessity in this case, especially when it comes to your health. That said, although there are a number of medical supplies out there in the world, if you don’t know how to use them, then they’re just as valuable as the boxes they came in – worthless. Although food supplies are the first to go after a widespread disaster, those medical supplies and first-aid skills are just as important.

 

With all the chaos that’s likely to occur during a disaster – broken pavement, loose power lines, debris, and damaged buildings – people are bound to get hurt, which includes you and your family. Even the smallest injury can turn into something serious if it’s not taken care of and treated properly. That’s why learning CPR basics and first-aid skills should a top priority on your survival list when preparing for a disaster. If you aren’t sure what set of skills you should work on learning first, then work your way through the following list:

CPRCardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Training:

When it comes to saving an individual’s life, the first thing that should come to mind is cardiopulmonary resuscitation. That’s because, with CPR training, you’ll be able to take critical action that can save the life of a heart attack victim. This is why experts always recommend taking these classes from registered professionals, so you’re well informed about proper procedures, especially since 70-80 percent of cardiac cases occur at home or in public places. Fortunately, even if you don’t have official training in this area, there are still ways that you can save lives during an emergency. How? By watching tutorial videos, that walk you through the various steps.

 

The hands-only CPR method, for example, can be done to anyone – with the exception of infants – whose heart stops beating according to the American Heart Association. On the other hand, when performing “compression-only” CPR, you’ll need to press down on the individual’s chest about two inches deep at the rate of 100 times per minute until help arrives.

 

Cleaning and Sanitizing a Wound:

When it comes to a wound, cleaning and sanitizing can be the difference between healing and it becoming infected with harmful bacteria. This means that learning how to irrigate an area that’s been affected and properly wrap it afterward will become extremely valuable. In some cases – depending on the injury, a butterfly stitch might be needed to help close the wound and prevent additional bacteria from getting in.

 

The one thing you should keep in mind while treating open wounds is staying away from painkillers. Although it might be tempting to give individuals painkillers to help ease the pain while you’re treating them, this will only make things worse. Why? Well, because painkillers interfere with pain messages sent to the brain via nerve endings according to Regis College. This means that if the injury gets infected for whatever reason and the body tries to send pain messages, the individual wouldn’t know, which could lead to deadly results if not treated.

First Aid KitHow to Treat Burns:

Burns, specifically large or severe ones, should always be treated by medical professionals. However, if it’s urgent and you’re short on resources during an emergency, then be sure to run cool water over the burned area for about 10 minutes immediately after the injury was sustained. Once you’ve done that, find something cool that you can use to keep the skin moist and compressed. Whatever you do, don’t apply things like butter, ice, or yogurt directly onto the affected area. Instead, clean the area using mild soap and water. If the pain is too great to bear, then take some mild acetaminophen — just enough to ease the pain for you to focus.

 

Remember, there are different levels of burns, so identifying the class of burns is vital when it comes to proper treatment. As a final point, the last thing you want to do while treating a burn is removing all clothing items and jewelry. Just the slightest touch of any of these objects can be enough to send someone into shock from the enormous amount of pain.

 

Treating Shock:

Speaking of shock, knowing how to treat shock is going to be an extremely useful tool, especially after a catastrophic event. What makes it even scarier is that anyone is prone to it, especially individuals who were injured during or after a disaster. So while it’s important not to ignore the physical signs, it’s equally important not to ignore mental signs as well. Just how important is it? Think of it this way: if the injury is treated, but the shock is ignored, the individual still has a high chance of not making it. Fortunately, there are ways you can help. Keeping the individual calm, and their body elevated while going through shock, for example, can prevent their pressure from dropping too low.

 

With all that said, hopefully, you never have to put any of these survival tips to use in the coming future, but whether you’re CPR certified or not, at least you’ll know how you can help those in need during an emergency. Remember, practice these steps beforehand. That way if – or when – the time comes, you’ll be ready and well informed way ahead of time.

 

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By: Brooke Faulkner

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