There is more to prepping than just stock up on equipment and supplies. You have to have your skills ready to be self-sufficient too. One of the most important skills you need to have under your belt is how to practice first aid. Doctors may be in short supply during a disaster situation.
Get In-Person First Aid Training
Though a few Internet articles can really give you some great first-aid information, it is a poor substitute for actual physical training. It’s something you learn best by doing rather than just be reading about it. There are lots of places that have varying levels of first-aid training available.
One of the main types of public classes that you can take involves CPR, which is a great skill to have but you’ll want something more in-depth than just that for real prepping purposes. In a disaster situation, there is a greater risk from injuries than anything else. You’ll want to learn how to bandage and treat wounds, not just CPR.
Look for classes that involve bandaging, splinting broken bones, burns, head trauma, poisoning and other such topics. CPR would be helpful in some cases of heart attack, which is certainly a possibility during a disaster but dealing with bodily injuries is more important. Some organizations have specialty classes for “wilderness first aid” which may be more suited for good prepping practices.
The 2 big organizations in North America for first-aid training are the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance:
They offer classes on an ongoing basis, usually organized on weekends or evenings for convenience. Take one or take a few. They’re reasonably priced though the more advanced medical levels might be more expensive. Some may be a single day, but don’t be surprised if they last an entire weekend. I took one recently, and it was a full day for both Saturday and Sunday.
If you can’t find anything suitable with these groups, contact your doctor, medical center or even the hospital. They probably know who’s offering classes and they can help you get sorted.
If you can’t get yourself to a class, or just want to have references on hand during an emergency, you have a few options. Both the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance offer free apps that you can use as a handy reference on your phone. The one from St. John Ambulance has an audio component so you can hear the instructions when your hands are too full to be scrolling or clicking.
For hard-copy print references, get a copy of a first-aid book designed for use when there isn’t going to be a doctor in the picture right away. Books like “When There is No Doctor” or “The Survival Medicine Handbook” are a couple of good options. Read them now to get familiar with their contents before an actual problem arises. You can also download an inexpensive first aid reference book from the Red Cross website. It’s a good idea to have some sort of hard-copy reference, just in case you are in a disaster situation where you don’t have cell service or electricity.
Practice When You Can
I’m not suggesting you push someone down the stairs just so you can test out your skills, but keep in mind that first-aid isn’t just a one-time learning experience. Take a refresher course every few years to keep your knowledge fresh. If someone is hurt, do what you can rather than immediately hoping someone else can take care of it.
Keep Supplies to Match
Learning how to splint up a leg or bandage a head wound are great skills, as long as you have the right supplies at hand to actually do it. There isn’t any point learning how to do stuff if you can’t make use of your knowledge when you need to. Have a well-stocked first aid kit with your prep stores.
One last tip: keep your first aid supplies fresh. Obviously, this stuff isn’t as perishable as food but it doesn’t last forever either. Ointments for burns or antibiotic creams will have expiry dates, and even bandages can become brittle with age. Inventory your supplies once a year and rotate out anything that is passed its prime.