By:  Barry Knife

First of all, before everyone gets up on their house roofs and starts screaming and yelling, let me explain.

Most “prepper sites” advocate that everyone take a First Aid and CPR course, and then you’re covered, and you never have to worry anything happening (medically speaking) ever again, because you have that little card in your wallet.

Most currently offered First Aid and CPR courses assume that advanced help is never more than 10 to 15 minutes away.  First and foremost, “civilian” or as termed, “lay-provider” courses, instruct participants;

1.  How to recognize an emergency

2.  When and How to call for help. 

Anything provided beyond those two steps (as far as actual treatment or care) would be considered a bonus.  Lay providers are instructed to do no additional harm (one of the basic, and sometimes forgotten, rules of medicine).  Here again, any of the treatment or care is based on the assumption that help is only several minutes away.  So, First Aider, what do you do when help is an hour, a day, a week away, or never comes at all.

Okay, here comes another shocker.  This one will probably put me on the American Heart Association and Red Cross hit lists.  CPR doesn’t work without advanced intervention and care.  Victims who are in cardiopulmonary arrest (where their heart is not beating, or pumping effectively and they are not breathing) will not be resuscitated by CPR alone.  CPR is however, very important (we think). 

Successful resuscitation depends on several building blocks;

1.  Effective CPR

2.  Early advanced intervention with Defibrillation or Cardioversion (electrical shock) and or Drug Therapy

3.  Definitive interventional care to prevent recurrence of the problem and rehabilitation. 

Cardiopulmonary arrest for the average person is a pretty drastic event (I’m sort of sugar-coating this).  Despite amazing advances in treatment and care, very few (if any) post-resuscitation cardiopulmonary arrest victims immediately return to the activity they were engaged in just prior to the event.  So here again, CPR card holder, what do you do when help is an hour, a day, a week away, or never comes at all.

Even EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training is based on the assumption that you will be providing basic care and treatment (with specialized equipment) on the way to the hospital.  Here in South Central Pennsylvania today, a hospital with a 24 hour, 365 day a year, Professionally Staffed and Equipped Emergency Department is usually no more than 20 to 30 minutes away.  So what happens to the EMT when they do not have access to specialized equipment, and/or the ability to get patients to the hospital?

Now with all this stated, let me regress.  I do believe that it’s important for everyone to have basic first aid knowledge, and I also believe that the easiest way to “begin” is to take a basic First Aid and CPR course.  However, if you are truly serious about pursuing this, you must go further, and that can be the challenge.  Currently the only type of course or class that deals with any of the “delayed care” issues would be Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT.  These classes, as one might guess, are more frequently offered near “wilderness-type” areas.  Although, they are offered in say, New York City, I would guess probably much less frequently (because of limited participation and audience) and the ability (or rather inability) to provide experience in realistic environmental surroundings for practice.

So, now that I’ve opened this can-of-worms, what’s the answer.  Well, I don’t have a simple one, but I do have a few suggestions; 

  • First of all, stay healthy, prevention is still the best medicine. 
  • Take care of problems (medical problems) as they arise, and don’t put things off. 
  • Try to stockpile vital prescription medications. 
  • Keep a supply of OTC (over-the-counter) medications on hand, and rotate your stock. 
  • Keep on hand basic First Aid supplies.  Remember to check expiration dates and keep a written inventory. 
  • Take a First Aid and CPR class. 
  • Research and study more information.  Look at missionary training, expedition training, Etc, Etc.
  • Reference the books;  Where There is No Doctor, by: David Werner and When There is No Doctor, by: Gerard Doyle
  • Take a “reputable” Wilderness First Aid Class.