Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – by RickS
I suspect that one of the most neglected aspects of “Prepping” in the broader Prepper community is the acquisition of valuable skills. This is certainly not the case for many of the devoted fans of this blog as evidenced by the “What Did You Do To Prep This Week” feature where we learn of numerous participants who have acquired extensive skills in areas such as growing and preserving food, animal husbandry, radio communications, and many more. However, for many who are interested in prepping it is much easier to purchase “stuff” then it is to learn a new skill. There are likely many preppers who have stored seeds but never planted a garden, acquired an extensive collection of firearms and ammunition but never trained with them, and put together an impressive library of self-sufficiency books but never actually read any of them. They assume they will be able to quickly acquire skills when needed as long as they have the necessary materials. Of course, anyone who has undertaken to learn and refine such skills has realized there is often a very substantial learning curve, a fact that may prove disastrous in a time of crisis if that skill has not been developed beforehand.
This was certainly true in my case in the area of medical preparations. My background is in electrical engineering with absolutely no medical training. I purchased (and actually read) the excellent book “The Survival Medicine Handbook” by Joe and Amy Alton regarding medical care when traditional professional resources are not available and began to acquire medical supplies for use in a crisis situation. After acquiring several IFAK kits for the treatment of trauma (particularly gunshot wounds) I suddenly realized that I had very little idea how to use them. Although I am in my late 50’s, I considered for the first time acquiring some formal medical training.
After investigating the possibility of studying to become a Paramedic through the local community college I learned that I would need to invest three full-time semesters, a requirement that would be very difficult while continuing to operate my business. I then observed that a pre-requisite to studying to be a Paramedic is certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). I discovered that an EMT program is sponsored by the community college through the municipal Public Safety department.
While the time commitment is substantial (fourteen weeks times three evenings per week at four hours per evening plus three Saturdays), it was also feasible for someone with full-time employment (although it helped considerably that my business has been slow: I invested approximately 30 hours per week between in-class and out-of-class preparation). I decided to take the course, culminating in a National Registry Psychomotor exam to verify basic life support skills such as CPR, medical/trauma assessment, bleeding control, and airway management followed by a final certification exam. While this area of study was far outside my “comfort zone” I finally completed my certification as an EMT.
In addition to the manageable time requirements, EMT certification had another very positive advantage: it was very cost effective. The course was only $285; text books added $275, background checks and immunizations/screenings were approximately $200, and the final certification exam cost $70: in short, for a total cost of less than $900 I was able to become certified as an EMT.
When considering studying to become an EMT it is important to understand clearly what it is not. EMT is BLS: Basic Life Support. In fact, EMT training provides very little preparation to solve medical problems. The role of the EMT is to manage life threats and get the patient to doctors and nurses who provide definitive care. Indeed, there are a variety of situations where EMT training, equipment, and techniques are not even adequate to manage life threats; it is necessary to call on Paramedics to provide ALS (Advanced Life Support).
With this limitation in mind it is reasonable to ask “what use is EMT training in a crisis situation where doctors and nurses are not available?” I would like to suggest at least four reasons why EMT training is worth the investment. Note that these thoughts are based on the very valuable insights of other patrons of this blog given to me at the outset as well as my observations.
First, EMT training provides an excellent foundation for more advanced training. Basic anatomy, obtaining and interpreting vital signs, medical and trauma assessment, and personal protection in a medical environment are just a few of the basics that are emphasized in EMT training. Whether this training is supplemented by instruction in Wilderness EMT, Advanced EMT, Paramedic, or a variety of other areas, EMT training provides the basis for more advanced studies.
Second, EMT training opens the door to working with more advanced medical professionals. The EMT course includes an introduction to Advanced Life Support skills such as endotracheal intubation, intravenous fluid/medication therapy, electrocardiogram application and interpretation. While an EMT is not authorized to employ these skills, assisting a Paramedic will provide the “on-the-job” training necessary to be capable of using these skills in a societal collapse.
Third, volunteering to serve as an EMT with the local fire department or ambulance service will enable the volunteer to know and become known within the local emergency services community including police, fire/rescue, and emergency medical personnel. This community integration is likely to be very valuable in a crisis.
Finally, volunteering to serve as an EMT in the local community will provide valuable experience in functioning effectively during a medical emergency. EMT training focuses on the ability to rapidly assess a medical crisis and manage life threats when minutes (or even seconds) count. It is one thing to have a theoretical knowledge and another entirely to be able to function decisively in an actual emergency: experience is an essential ingredient in that ability.
EMT certification has proven to be a challenging but attainable goal that has introduced me to an entirely new world of medical evaluation and treatment. While EMT constitutes the lowest rung of “emergency medical professional”, it has proven to be an excellent balance of time/cost versus benefit and opened the door to continuing growth in a variety of ways.
Prizes For This Round Include: (Ends July 29, 2016)
- Gift certificate for $150 off of Handgun Ammo courtesy of Lucky Gunner.
- WonderMill Electric Grain Mill courtesy of WonderMill.
- 72 Hour 1 Person Kit courtesy of Augason Farms
- WaterBoy Well Bucket and Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products
- 72 Hour 1 Person Kit courtesy of Augason Farms
- MRE-Star Case of 12 Complete MRE Meals.
- LifeStraw Portable Water Filter.
- One can of Yoders Fully Cooked Canned Bacon
- One Jumbo Roll Toilet Paper / Toilet Tissue – 2000′ all courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.
- Five Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate 16 oz – Beef Kosher courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Ebook copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving TEOTWAWKI.
- Ebook Copy of The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook.
Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.
The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.