No one plans to trip and fall–especially not to fall and get hurt–but we do. It happens faster than we can say “oops”. Most of the time we quickly (or slowly) get back up, check to ensure all our parts still work, and somewhat sheepishly go on. But sometimes you either can’t get up, or it really hurts when you do.
A little while back I was thinking how difficult it would be to get around in a collapse situation with a leg injury. Trying to improvise crutches or a cane, though doable, wouldn’t be ideal. So we decided to purchase (from a thrift store) a set of crutches, a cane, and a wheelchair. So far we’ve got the crutches and a cane, hanging neatly in a corner of the garage. We haven’t found a decent wheelchair for good price yet, but when we do it’ll be folded down and hung with the others.
When an injury first happens, especially if it looks serious, everyone available helps and cares for the injured. But in the days afterward, the injury is mostly forgotten by everyone except the injured. He (or she) now has to get around and function as best they can. Injuries such as sprains and strains* are rarely crippling, but they make even minimal walking painful and difficult. Having that set of crutches or a cane (though a cane is easier to improvise, storing one takes almost no space) allows a patient to be ambulatory and more independent. In addition a wheelchair, for someone who can’t even get around on crutches, would be invaluable. Remember we’re discussing a situation where there is no other medical assistance available; a situation where you only have what you have.
This doesn’t have to be just a collapse situation. What about an injury during an ice or snow storm where it’s difficult to get out, or to have an ambulance respond? How much easier would it be if you had what was needed to allow your patient to be ambulatory? Then, when care is available, hang it back up until it’s needed again – they’re reusable.
Ryan is currently healing from an injury of his own. His involves the collar-bone and shoulder region (bike crash), so it doesn’t limit him walking around. But I was reminded how long those type of injuries take to heal, the pain associated with them, and the inconveniences they cause doing simple day-to-day activities.
The other thing I plan to add to our medical preps is a folding military-style stretcher. I thought about this again when I read Dr. Bones’ post, Thoughts on Patient Transport. A stretcher is in a somewhat different category since it’s used to carry an injured person, and may not be as necessary because it can be improvised. But we know that people are going to get hurt and that they are going to need to be moved; so we may as well prepare for it.
I know this isn’t brain surgery, but frequently we don’t think about preparing for medical injuries beyond having a first aid kit. As I’ve stressed before, in a collapse situation people who aren’t used to physical exertion will be forced to be much more active and injuries will happen – and they will happen more frequently.
(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)
*A sprain is an injury to a ligament (in a joint), i.e. sprained ankle; a strain (aka as ‘pulled’) is an injury to a tendon or muscle, i.e. strained, or pulled, hamstring). For first aid treatment, remember the mnemonic: P.R.I.C.E. – protect, rest, ice, compress, elevate. Crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair will help protect the injured extremity by not putting weight on it, and allow it to rest by using it as little as possible.