In the event of a widespread breakdown of the system, getting proper medical care will prove difficult, if not impossible. With the system unable to guarantee proper care, it’s up to each individual to take the steps necessary to ensure adequate care for himself and his family. To do this, one should begin by creating a medical supply kit.
The kit should be sufficiently stocked to handle a short-duration medical emergency — say three days to a week. You should prepare it with the mind-set that in the event of a major crisis, you are going to be on your own in dealing with any medical emergencies.
The New York City Fire Department recommends you have the following in your first aid kit for immediate response to injury:
- Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin tablets: for headaches, pain, fever and simple sprains or strains. (Aspirin should not be used for relief of flu symptoms or given to children.)
- Ipecac syrup and activated charcoal: for treatment after ingestion of certain poisons.
- Anti-bacterial soap.
- Elastic wrap: for wrapping wrist, ankle, knee and elbow injuries.
- Triangular bandages: for wrapping injuries and making an arm sling.
- Scissors with rounded tips.
- Adhesive tape and 2-inch gauze: for dressing wounds.
- Disposable, instant ice bags: for icing injuries and treating high fevers.
- Bandages of assorted sizes: for covering minor cuts and scrapes.
- Antibiotic ointment: for minor burns, cuts and scrapes.
- Gauze in rolls and in 2-inch and 4-inch pads: for dressing wounds.
- Bandage Closures—one-fourth-inch and 1-inch: for taping cut edges together.
- Tweezers: to remove small splinters and ticks.
- Safety pins: to fasten bandages.
- Sterile gloves: to protect yourself and reduce the risk of infection when treating open wounds.
- Thermometer: be sure to include a rectal or tympanic for children.
- Lidocaine: local anesthetic.
- First Aid Manual.
These items should help you deal with the most common emergencies in the short-term. However, accidents happen, and the likelihood of serious accidents increases in periods of crisis.
Therefore, in order to be properly prepared for a long-term emergency, it would be a good idea to take a first aid course like that offered by the American Red Cross or a college first-responder course. In addition to helping train you to remain cool during a medical emergency, such a course would help you understand basic anatomy and provide an expansion of your ability to deal with a healthcare emergency.
Following completion of such a course, your emergency medical kit would need to be expanded as well. This will provide you with the equipment needed to help you put your increased knowledge to work. In addition to the small-kit items, your long-term medical emergency kit should contain:
- A medical dictionary and a basic medical textbook.
- Large gauze dressings.
- Small gauze squares.
- Petroleum gauze.
- Plastic bags.
- Elastoplast dressing.
- Tincture of Benzoin.
- Tincture of Iodine.
- Safety pins.
- Cotton-tipped swabs.
- Oropharyngeal airways.
- Resuscitation face mask with one-way valve.
- Blood pressure cuff.
- Small flashlight.
- Space blanket.
- Air splints.
- Plaster of Paris (or fiberglass) roller bandages.
- Pregnancy test kits.
- Sterile and unsterile latex gloves.
- Scrub suits.
- Eye patches.
- Suture materials and needles.
- Snake bite kit.
- Antibiotic ear drops.
- Antibiotic cream: Neosporin or something similar.
You may also want to consider compiling a surgical kit. This should contain:
- Mayo and Metzenbaum scissors.
- Dissecting forceps.
- Small curved clamps.
- Large curved clamps.
- Disposable scalpels.
- Emergency obstetric kit.
- Lift out forceps.
- Small bone saw.
Most of these items can be purchased at one or more of several places. Some are available at your local pharmacy or discount store, while others are available from medical supply stores. Almost everything on the list can be purchased online from various outlets. A Google search is a simple way to find items not readily available at the pharmacy or supply store.