Get medical training now or die later!

This guest post is by Chad B and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

In a SHTF situation, when the government starts to crumble, and you just sliced your hand open trying to open that can of chili with your pocket-knife, what are you going to do? Or when you fall and twist your ankle while trying to stalk a deer? This is not the time to realize you need to learn how to do, at a minimum, basic first aid. Most preppers seem to have very elaborate medical kits.

Now, I may be a noob to the prepping community, but I have 16 years as a healthcare provider working in the Intensive Care Units. I am trained to start an IV, place an arterial line for med administration, place an artificial airway for breathing (intubate), and have sat in on more child-births and surgeries than I can count. I am qualified to teach both neonatal resuscitation and difficult airway management, and currently work part-time as an adjunct professor for the local college teaching these things to students.

Now, I am not bragging in the least by listing these qualifications. I am merely setting the ground for my next statement. In NO WAY, with all this experience, could I perform the in-depth, complicated and risky procedures that occur in some books popular among those of our “kind” without feeling the need to evacuate my bowels, in a hurry, into my camo pants.

Now, I am by no means saying it is unlikely or not possible for these events to occur. You may belong to a survival group with access to a general surgeon. You may be a retired (or currently active) physician. But the majority of us, be we a member of a group (regardless of size), or alone with our family are not going to be lucky enough to have a skillful surgeon at our fingertips.

Now does that mean we should lie down and call the game? Absolutely not!! If that were in our DNA, we would not be reading this blog, much less going without all the things the sheeple spend their time and money on. We would not be pinching our pennies to buy that bucket of beans, or that AR/AK/whatever. But as with our food and our weapons, I think it is wise to use some common sense in our purchasing and training in first aid.

You wouldn’t choose to buy nothing but wheat to store. You wouldn’t buy a .22 pistol and one box of ammo and call it your armory. You also, if you have common sense, wouldn’t buy the most exotic rifle you could afford, pack it up, never shoot it, and think that when TSHTF you are going to be good because “I’ve got that fancy rifle put up”. Or would you? So why do many of the people I have interacted with on different sites/blogs do exactly that when it comes to their first aid supplies?

Is it the hope that if they have it, they will never have to use it? Is it the old condom logic, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it? I tend to think that if one “runs into a physician” after TSHTF, they will probably be traveling with the tools of the trade so to speak, because that will guarantee them safety and comfort in trying times. Notice that traveling physicians were probably the safest people in the “wild west”.

Let me present you with a question, you have a friend with you during TEOTWAWKI, and you guys (or ladies) are out hunting for meat to go with your preps (have to round out that stored food with a steak, right?) and your friend (who is very much a noob like me) trips, falls, and discharges his rifle through his upper thigh. Now, as a prepper you probably have all the required tools to perform the surgery that it would take to fix this problem.

But do you have the skill? Probably not, and now you have lost both the value of the tools as well as the hunting buddy. Just to give you an idea of the severity, we had a young man who accidentally fired a .22 revolver through his upper thigh while riding in a car with friends, clipping the femoral artery; he bled out in the time it took his buddy to drive 2 blocks to our facility.

So what is my point? Where am I going with all of this? Basically my point is to make one of two decisions. First, keep your medical supplies to what you can actually use (I don’t store as much wheat as some because I have celiac disease and therefore it would be wasted on me) . I have an AED (a defibrillator) at my home, but then again I am trained to both use it and instruct others in its use (my 12-year-old can properly use it to diagnose and apply shock where necessary if I am the victim).

If you do not know how to use it, and you buy it, that is money you could have spent on food, ammo, or security devices. It would be like giving my wife a Porsche (she could drive it, but she is more comfortable in her mini-van and the car would be wasted). Second choice; learn as much as you have the time and money to learn now about first aid because once TSHTF, it’s too late to learn it. There are many places you can learn basic CPR and First Aid, which we should all have.

Places like Red Cross, American Heart Association, American Safety Training Institute, or your local community/technical college are good starting places (and all searchable from that computer you are sitting at right now). If you are fiscally stable and have the time, think about taking a basic EMT course. While this may not teach you to do brain surgery in the field while shooting bad-guys, it may save the life of a loved one in TEOTWAWKI or even next week.

And this training will also allow you to make some sense of the medical book(s) that I am sure you have on your survival shelf as we speak. If you don’t, use this site to jump to Amazon right now, and get those ordered because your loved ones lives could depend on it very soon.

This contest will end on June 5 2012 – prizes include:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of   A total prize value of over $150.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution”  and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company.  A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. JP in MT says:

    CHad B:

    Thanks for the article.

    Medical care is going to be an issue for all of us, especially if the Health Care Reform Bill actually takes effect in 2014.

    I know people are already getting notices that their Medicare payments will go from around $97/mo. to close to $300 in 2015! Plus it SAYS there will be a reduction in services available.

    Now just compound that with an economic crash and/or a slowdown/stoppage of transportation of supplies that just multiplies this issue.

    There is so much that individuals can do to educate themselves, supplies that can be purchased that don’t expire, and references to be gathered. No matter what your major reason for prepping is, this will payoff.

    • Did not get a notice yet, but have had my supplement premiums increase by forty percent the last two years since he signed the damned thing. Our state limits increases to no more than ten percent a year and when the insurance commissioner was qeried on this, they said they okayed it because of the added expense obamacare was going to cost the insurance companies. I asked it this was going to continue on and for how many years and they declined to answer. Before, the bills were paid through the Center for Medicare Services and now on the reports I receive the logo is Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services proving what I had maintained all along that since they robbed the Social Security Fund to pay for a lot of welfare, they would now do the same with Medicare.

  2. SurvivorDan says:

    Truth there. I had to suture a buddy up thirty-five years ago. Haven’t stopped to consider whether I could do such now. I can’t even see well enough for fine work and the hands may shake a little. No practice and little training.
    Yeah, I’ve got a bit of medical gear and an inkling how to use the stuff and under what circumstances to use what.
    But I do need more training and more up to date training. Might not be taking the friend you’ve duct-taped back together to a real doctor for a second opinion and follow up. Least not after the Collapse.
    Good post Chad B.

  3. CountryGirl says:

    Hard to argue with advice to get more medical/1st aid training. I would suggest a tetanus shot and a lot of other shot’s not generally given to Americans. Ask your medical provider what shots you need to visit 3rd world countries. In a worst case scenario we will be a 3rd world country. Most/many military get all of those shots that will protect them from a lot of diseases we never have to think about.

  4. axelsteve says:

    Very good article and you drove a point home3 to me at least. My mother is a retired rn however I have no formal medical training.I used to read her nursing magazines when I was younger and I may know a few things ,I have not had any training though.I took a quick cpr thing in hi school but now they have the new cpr.Kinda like the new math. I need to get some training.

  5. button crazy says:

    DIE LATER or DIE NOW SHOULD BE THE QUESTION. My husband has been ill since the 29th of April. 17 days in hospital. He has a Nocardosis-Brain Mass., infection caused from soil or dirty water usually in tropical counties. Only 500 to 1000 healthy people in the u. s. get it a year. Five doctors and brain bio., two lung bio later. The kicker is that the med. he needs are on the national shortage list. Try getting that kind of meds. It has taken a lot of work to get him the meds. They wanted me to give iv antiboics at home. Home health care would come twice a week. I could not hire a private duty RN to give him the meds. That was not working. Placed him in care and rehab. center they could not get the meds. they used what i had gotten from home health care.One nurse refused to give him his meds. It is a drug that has to be given with sugared water. Causing the iv to quit working about every twenty minutes. Thought i found a oncology lab to give the meds. They did not have the meds either. They had to work with the company that makes the meds because it was a life and death matter. The lab. was able to get the meds. This is 2012. If i had not done a lot of homework on the computer and Phone calls we still might be waiting for the the health system to work. The infectious disease doctor was a great help in getting all the meds. for my husband. He would have died from something that can be cured.

  6. Desert Fox says:

    Thank you for bringing the subject to light again. It is an important one. However, no matter how much you read or go to classes to learn, unless you keep renewing your learnings and “practicing” it, you will forget it in very short order. Also, unfortunately, these classes are getting mighty expensive! In the hundreds of dollars for EMT classes!

    Having said that…we need to become familiar with the basics of first aid including how to sew skin and quiet a limb break. Always remember that cleanliness is essential not only of the wounds but also your hands. As an example: the plant Wild Yarrow, will stop bleedings and close wounds very fast…but if you don’t clean the open wound very well…it will close and get infected inside.

    We can’t prepare for everything ~ we need to embrace that fact ~ but the notion that our lives are being enriched with this adventure, should be enough to push us on!

  7. Overall a good point, but I get to call BS on the “…place an arterial line for med administration…” part of the list.

    Maybe, place an arterial line to monitor the hemodynamic effects of med administration, or something like that…intra-arterial meds are as rare as hen’s teeth. 🙂

  8. Just pour some whiskey on it, use a pistol butt & drive the arrow thru,then slap a hot knife blade on the wait..that was a cowboy movie! Sorry..I’m not making light of the situation. Good article Chad!! You bring up totally valid concerns. Everyone could benefit from learning more. My opinion to add would be to have a backup person that knows first aid as well in case you’re incapable of administering first aid yourself. I also think there will probably be a need for the “traveling physician” or dentist and theres going to be situations thats above first aid & will need the help of said specialist. If I’m lucky, I’ll have some things to “barter” with. These are just my opinions. I’ll also add this..I’m trying to learn a new skill to add value after SHTF. In my case, I’m trying to learn how to weld & do some metalwork. Also.. I’ve dusted off the reloader & will be reloading shells.
    Just some thoughts.. Good stuff.. Rowdy

  9. tommy2rs says:

    Even with the skills to do surgery, imagine doing it without the benefit of anesthesia. Or having to make and use ether (used as starting fluid, it’s highly flammable and can form explosive peroxides during long term storage) or chloroform (can be extracted from bleach with acetone but it requires ice to control the exothermic reaction), both of which having side effects that can lead to death anyway.

  10. evolute says:

    I wonder if Chad B is confussing an art line with a PICC line?

  11. axelsteve says:

    With Obamacare. Medications will be harder to find and medical research will go out the window and care will be rationed.Welcome to Canada the best in medical care that the 1970`s has to offer.

  12. I like to overstock both my trauma kits, one for inflicting it and the other one for treating it.

  13. To tell you the truth todays 1st aid/cpr classes are just so much bravo sierra. It’s all AED’s and chest compressions.
    Go for EMT or Medical 1st Responder level training as a minimum.

  14. Here are a few skill sets I’d recommend for the regular person to know and learn how to perform.

    This isn’t going to do you any good in a TEOTWAWKI situation. CPR is a temporizing measure that keeps blood moving until the patient gets to someone with a defibrillator or a crash cart. However, until TSHTF, it would be good to know in case you are out to dinner or the store and someone collapses.

    Basic Wound Care
    Learn how to properly clean a wound. I recommend using a mix of iodine or betadine and water. Warm soapy water works well too. At the least, make sure the water is as sterile as possible. Washing the wound removes foreign debris as well as reduces the bacteria concentration in the wound. If you are using water of questionable quality, you have no idea what kinds of things you are introducing into the wound.

    I would discourage closing a wound out in the field unless you are properly trained or it is medically necessary to control bleeding, etc. Cleaning the wound and keeping it clean will allow it to heal and avoid the potential complications of improper wound closure. Trapped debris is a source of infection. The bacterium that causes tetanus grows well in the environment of a closed wound.

    Simple Splinting
    Learn how to fashion a simple leg and arm splint. There are plenty of online resources that demonstrate the techniques and abundant materials out in the field to make one. Stabilizing a broken bone not only provides a measure of comfort, but it can prevent the jagged ends of the bone from causing further injury to tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Learn how to fashion an arm sling out of a shirt or bandana. Knowing how to do these can make the trip back to civilization after a camping mishap a little more bearable.

    As an aside, I’d recommend that everyone carry some sort of card that identifies all medical conditions you have, all medications you take, and all allergies you have. When you show up to the ER after a car accident it really helps if the folks there know that you have a medical condition or allergy that may affect their treatment plan.

    • Good point on CPR, except maybe in the cases where a victim has drowned, choked, or suffered an electrical shock. Successful CPR there might allow a full recovery with no other support measures required afterward.

  15. Jarhead 03 says:

    Even basic medical/first aid is important. Anything you learn much like I say anything you add is better than what you had.
    I have had some good medical combat training while in the military and talk with friends that are nurses and physicians assistants for knowledge as well as training and gear/equipment.

    When things go bad and if the grid goes down including basic medical treatment we could be in the dark ages when it comes to succoming to injuries and infections we normally wouldn’t concern ourselves with nothing more than peroxide/rubbing alcohol, some ointment and a band aid.

    Visiting many third world nations I seen gang green first hand and amputations that we would have prevented with a few days in the hospital.good article!

  16. BullDogBeau says:

    Good Article Chad! Thank you.

    I would only recommend download .pdf format of U.S. Army Warrior Skill books. Not only is there great first aid in the book but it’s a great source for training with your SHTF team. Everything you need to know. During basic training we continually go over every section until you know it without thinking.

    I would recommend getting together with your teams and reading through applicable sections then act out scenarios.

    The link to the Skill Level 1 PDF is…

    I hope this helps. Let me know.


  17. CPR/First Aid really should be a required class for graduation in High School. I took it in high school as an elective, then again in the military as the “combat lifesaver course” and then more training for the expert infantryman’s badge. Then I trained again while I was in college working as a security officer. Long since those courses, I was in a conference for work a couple years ago and a young lady stood up and grabbed her throat…the room was frozen…I jumped up, grabbed her around the torso and after a couple Heimlich thrusts, a chunk of chicken flew out on to the table. The entire room sighed in relief as she got her first couple breaths. I stood there with my adrenaline pumping still, but for the rest of the conference, I couldn’t help but be appalled think that NOBODY ELSE IN THE ROOM KNEW WHAT TO DO! 30+ people and only ONE person knew how to do it. After the fact, for the next 2 days of the conference, people kept asking me “Where did you learn that?” “How did you know what to do?” My response was first aid classes, please go take them.

  18. alikaat says:

    Hi Chad… can’t agree with you more about the absolute necessity of medical training. As a Scout Leader for about a decade, I do have the requirements that are mandatory for any leader taking the boys on a camping trip… but really, that is all the formal training I can claim, but it’s been utilized quite a few times over the years. Boys get into scrapes. Post SHTF… can’t imagine that will change much! More training would be better, for sure.

    My prepper group… we call ourselves a prepper family… is fortunate (and unusual) to have two MD’s and an RN. But our group tends to be pretty compartmentalized – we have medical folk, hunters, farmers, ex-milit and currently active, brewers and a vintner, an engineer, a carpenter… and more. But there is very little cross training. Combined, we can maintain some kind of quality of life, but what one of us knows, the others mostly don’t. That may come back to bite us in the a** if we lose someone along the line, and we’re spread out over about a 5 mile radius. That may be a bit more distance than comfortable if in a SHTF, roadways are less than optimal.

    Like with the Wolf Pack… we have the skills, but don’t all live in one place. Medical training… should be the first thing on that need to cross-train list, for all of our sakes.

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