If you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared, then you probably have a medical kit around. It has the standard list of things you’ll need in it, and if you’re actually serious then you’ll have trained on how to use what’s in it. Ask most guys who consider themselves to be “prepared” how to control bleeding or use a tourniquet, and you could probably get a decent answer. We’ve talked about all kinds of medical topics here at AP, from patient assessment to first aid, mindset, and more. For a lot of folks, that stuff is pretty basic at this point. What’s a normal blood pressure look like? Easy. High quality CPR? Sure — you might even stay on top of the changes to the procedure. Trauma? Simple — you’re all about DCAP-BTLS and have your rapid assessments down to a science.
Some folks, in fact, have moved far beyond the standard sling-and-swathe and can put in IVs, do some suturing, or even know when and how to do a needle decompression if they absolutely had to. All of that information and study, however, tends to focus around what we think we will deal with in our own personal lives if medical care is unavailable, and for most guys (and girls, if we’re being honest), that means a standard list of stuff.
Ask the average prepper what medical issues he thinks he would have to know how to handle in a grid down situation, and chances are he’s going to mention one of these:
- Diseases arising from sanitation issues
- Infections, such as from something not healing properly
- Fractures and sprains
- Animal bites
- Gunshot wounds
- Certain types of trauma, such as head injuries
- Heat-based illnesses
- Foot issues (athlete’s foot, etc.)
- Cardiac events
If you’re reading over this list and thinking, “Yup, that about covers the important things,” then you’re probably pretty normal. In fact, while writing this article I asked twelve different people, who consider themselves to be pretty well-prepared, for the things they thought they should be able to handle; the above list is the result of their combined input.
Only ONE of them mentioned anything having to do with pediatric, gynecological, or obstetric emergencies; in fact, most of them freely admit when asked that they wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to handle one, although one of the others stated that he was “pretty sure” that if he had to deliver a baby, he could figure it out and “nobody would die.” They aren’t uncaring, stupid, or somehow worthless; they simply never considered that they might need to know about anything else besides the standard “I got injured fighting for freedom” paradigm with a little “gotta worry about my feet and my sanitation” thrown in.
Here’s the thing. Most preppers have families that include women and children, both of whom have systems, anatomy, and potential emergencies that differ from adult men. And while some of the things on the list above are pretty standard — after all, bleeding calls for direct pressure regardless of whether the patient is 10 or 50 — you’ll still need to understand if and how those events would differ when presenting in a child, or be knowledgeable enough to help out in a “female” emergency, regardless of your current level of comfort in even discussing them, let alone assisting in them.
What’s the normal blood pressure for a 5-year-old child? What two characteristics do infants have that differ from adults AND require special consideration so they don’t cause airway problems? How serious is it if your 18-month-old starts seizing? And what about all the things that can go wrong for females? Are you well-versed enough to be able to provide medical care for a gynecological or obstetric emergency? If your wife starts bleeding, how much is too much? What can cause excessive bleeding? When does it become something critical? And what can you do for her in that situation?
It’s easy to skip those parts in the various medical books, and shrug off the “chick problems” or pediatric medical care as being your wife’s job to handle on her own. The truth, however, is that if your wife or significant other goes down sick or injured, someone will have to provide care for not only her, but your children as well. If she is the only one who knows enough about female or pediatric medical issues to do that, you’ve got a problem. The same applies to you, and any medical issues that are germane to you personally.
Prepping for OB-GYN Issues
To be fair, it’s not just men that miss the importance of this. Many female preppers stash a few boxes of feminine products and maybe a 90-day supply of birth control and Midol and call it good; in fact, of the females I asked, only one of them had more than that — one had less. Is that enough? What about supplies to deal with things like yeast infections or UTIs? Some women have chronic problems that can cause excruciating pain; have you considered accounting for pain medication or other things needed to ensure proper management of these conditions? Pregnancy, labor and delivery certainly won’t stop in a SHTF situation either; you should also have far more than enough supplies to either handle a pregnancy or prevent one altogether, as well as care for a newborn if your wife or significant other hasn’t gone through menopause yet.
And since we’re also discussing sanitation, what about disposal of all of these hygiene products? That needs to be considered as well, since they aren’t exactly biodegradable. Researching “old school” ways to manage such things is well worth you and your significant other’s time. In fact, there is a whole host of things that should be looked at, planned for, and trained for. Personal responsibility dictates that all adult members in a family or group recognize the extent of what they themselves will need, and seek to fill those needs on both a physical supply and mental training level.
Prepping for Pediatric Issues
Children don’t have the same normal ranges for vitals, or even exactly the same anatomical proportions; an infant’s tongue, for instance, is disproportionately large when compared to an adult and can interfere with their airway. Add in the fact that they’re exclusively nose-breathers for their first few months, and suddenly something as simple as a severe cold and cough can become a big deal. Febrile seizures, diseases such as RSV, and other problems that children are susceptible to can make training or supply gaps very obvious in a hurry, when even a bulb syringe can become a lifesaver. Conditions like asthma, diabetes, allergies, and chronic ear infections can cause parents some sleepless nights and worry even in this age of modern medicine on demand; what if you don’t have access to that? What if you can’t get the supplies you need?
These issues aren’t always easy to discuss or handle, but in order to be truly prepared, you and your family members need to think about a number of problems that could affect the females and children in your family. Take the time to research gynecological and pediatric emergencies, conditions, and issues, and understand enough to know when something IS an emergency for your wife or child.
There could come a day when the only person who can provide them the medical care they need…is you.