I like to think I’m better prepared for emergency situations than most people in terms of food, water, and financial resilience. But when it comes to medical training I got a whole lot of nothing. While I lack the temperament to ever be a serious first responder, at the very least I feel a personal responsibility to understand the basics. So I signed up for a full day emergency first aid course which was not only educational, but surprisingly fun. The classes were presented by a charming husband and wife team, each with active military medical experience. Their teenaged son was also on hand for demonstrations. While they were entirely professional I appreciated the intimate family environment as opposed to an impersonal bureaucratic atmosphere.
The class walked participants through the most commonly required procedures as well as the proper use of various medical devices. I now feel more confident in my ability to respond to an emergency situation.
I also realized that I’m not young anymore and I felt both my age and the need to get in to better physical condition. I could lose a few pounds and would benefit from some exercise. That’s actually a lot harder for me than learning how to pressure can food or plant an orchard. Not only do I want to be able to assist others in a crisis, but I don’t want to be a burden. I’m working on it…
I’m fortunate to have health insurance. This wasn’t always the case so I’m taking full advantage of whatever’s on offer. Part of my policy includes a medical savings account where pre-tax money can be set aside for health care expenses. But if that money isn’t used by the end of the year it has to be spent on a limited number of approved items. So what exactly do you do with $2,000 in a hurry? How about a shiny new defibrillator for under the kitchen sink next to the fire extinguisher? Or a tricked out first aid kid with all the bells and whistles?
I’m a beekeeper so I always have a couple of epinephrine injectors on hand. I’m not allergic to bee stings, but others might be. You never know when someone might experience anaphylaxis.
I also set aside a bag valve mask that does the same thing as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but in a more sanitary fashion. And it’s a lot easier to squeeze air from a bag with your hand than blow with your own breath. Israeli bandages, tourniquets, medical adhesive tape, and multiple baggies of nitrile gloves all went in to the kit.
Then I had to decide where to put the kit. I don’t drive very often – only about 2,000 miles a year since I live in the city. But the car seemed like the best place. It’s either right down in the garage where I can get at it, or I’m out in the world with it in the hatchback. And some water bottles fit nicely around the spare tire while I was at it. You never know.
Does any of this make me 100% ready for a medical emergency? Not even close. But I’m just that much more prepared than I was before. At the very least I’ll be well positioned to assist someone else who has more professional expertise.