Something To Lean On

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.

No, You Can’t Take It

five basic needs: 1) food, 2) water, 3) shelter, 4) SECURITY, and 5) energy

Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime.

There’s a story of a prepper moving into his new home. As he’s unpacking all of his preps and food storage in his garage the nosey neighbor wanders over, looks at all stuff and ‘jokingly’ says, “If the shit ever hits the fan, I know who I need to come and kill.” The prepper looks at the neighbor and says, “That’s too bad. Before you said that, I would have shared with you if you were in need.”

Now that we’re starting to build our preps, what do we need to do to keep them secure? It’s a tough, but real question. There are people out there who’s shit hits the fan (SHTF) scenario is to take others’ stuff by force (“I don’t need to store food, I just store ammo”). To share, or not, is a personal choice; however, the decision is one you should be allowed to make, not forced into.

Our neighbors and those around us know that we’re preppers. They see into our garages; they hear us discuss our projects and stores. Some in the prepper community express concern about others ‘knowing too much’; but I believe, with the appropriate caution, we should share our knowledge and set an example, and build community around us.

“When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” Lack of water kills us in a few days; lack of security can kill us in seconds.

Security involves many technical skills: personal defense, weapons, firearms, and first aid. Almost all require some degree of initial training, and then continuing education to maintain proficiency. It encompasses a lot of things viewed as the ‘Cool Guy’ exciting stuff. Many of us, myself included, enjoy training in personal defense, shooting guns, or learning to treat a trauma wound. But these skills become very serious when lives depend on them.

Being aware of your environment and actions is also a big part of security. Know who’s around, have escape routes in mind, look for potential weapons. Do what you can to avoid dangerous places and situations. Frank Sharpe Jr., of Fortress Defense, teaches “We don’t go to stupid places, with stupid people, and do stupid things.”

In addition to the practical skills, there are the moral aspects. While most would agree with defending yourself, and others around you, what about defending your ‘stuff’? Where is the line, how much of your preps (‘stuff’) can you lose before that loss threatens your life?

The Second Amendment affirms our right to “keep and bear Arms.” Firearms ownership in the prepper community is overwhelmingly approved of and encouraged. I believe firearms should be a part of your preps. But everyone must decide what is appropriate for them. If you do choose to use firearms, ensure you have the proper training in safe use and handling.

Whether you choose to use firearms or not, I also highly recommend carrying pepper spray on a daily basis. It’s a non-lethal option that is easy to carry, requires no special training, it’s inexpensive, and very effective.

And finally, first aid training–to keep us secure if/when someone gets hurt– is a topic near and dear to me. After working as a paramedic for almost 10 years I appreciate what can, and can’t, be done.

Firearms, other weapons, and first aid will be the topics of future posts. At this point I simply want to raise awareness. As we strive for self-reliance we know that systems fail–especially in disasters. It is up to us to protect our five basic needs, our homes, and our families.

(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)