First Aid is tough.
If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t need ambulances, right? So when you’re planning to survive off the land or away from hospitals or you’re preparing for SHTF and nobody available, what do you need to know?
One of the obvious ones everybody thinks about is broken bones. Splints and bandages can wrap them up and keep the bones secure, but what other things do we have to watch for?
Infection and disease is a tough one. There are so many potential problems. Just like in medieval times, any nick could be your last if you’re in a bad place. Keeping alcohol wipes, disinfectant, and antibiotics (and knowing how/when to use them) could be a major lifesaver.
Naturally, a lot of people will point to “Natural” remedies to save them. But will “aspirin” from a willow tree really help you? Well, it turns out, it’s not really aspirin per se. “This tree contains phenolglycosides, salicortin and salicin. This last is an analgesic which led to the formulation of salicylic acid, aspirin.” Says The Poison Garden, ” Aspirin is a modified form of salicin which gives reduced gut irritation and bleeding.” It’s also not recommended for anyone pregnant or giving birth. Of course, aspirin itself can cause stomach bleeds, but conventional aspirin does less damage than willow bark.
I’ve also heard interesting chatter about Chinese Lantern plants– specifically, that their cherry-like fruits can “reduce fevers, help stop coughs, as an expectorant, as a diuretic for gout sufferers and to disperse stones and gravel in the kidneys.”
What this neglects to tell you, however, is that unripe plants AND LEAVES (so, the “whole plant” can’t actually be used, as the above blog suggests), can cause “Headache, stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhoea, low temperature, dilated pupils, breathing problems and numbness”.
“But Sam,” some of you might be saying, “You’ve only looked at one article for each of those, how can you know which one is right?”
The real question here is, how do you know which one is right?
Do you know when a Chinese Lantern berry is ripe? Do you know whether they promote birth or are have “anti-fertility” effects? Do you know when they may or may not kill you?
Please for god’s sake don’t trust Pinterest or an 80 year old boyscouts handbook or a friend of a friend who ‘seems to know what he’s doing’. If you plan to survive in any location, know what the local flora looks like, and all the details of when that flora is edible.
You see an orange, you peel it, then a licensed survivalist jumps out from nowhere and proclaims it’s poisonous. You tell him ‘That’s stupid, it’s an orange.’ You eat the orange. It’s delicious. That is how certain you should be before trying out new plants. But just remember– if plant-based medicine worked as well as manmade pills, we wouldn’t have the manmade pills. You’re better off stocking up and learning how to barter.
So okay, your friend didn’t poison himself on mystery berries, isn’t going septic because of dirty instruments, didn’t break a limb, but they fell unconscious because reasons. Now what?
Here’s where that paracord of yours can come in handy, sport! Turn your paracord into a net Or create some other form of stretcher or litter. Barring that, learn to perform a fireman’s carry or learn another carry.
Some other practical things to know:
How to stop bleeding (Press a clean cloth to the wound and hold it firmly)
How to communicate nonverbally (basic sign language will help, either when hunting and trying to communicate without spooking prey, or when an airway is impaired and one needs assistance)
How to identify hypothermia, Hyperthermia (those are two different things!) and how to solve both of them
Which includes how to build a shelter and a fire
How to handle and avoid basic pest wounds (fleas, ticks, mosquitos) and their diseases
How to dispose of potentially deadly biological waste (Yeah, that means blood, poo, vomit, and all those other gross fluids you don’t want to think about)
How to cook food and distill water so you don’t have as large a risk of disease
How to detect disease in the creatures you’re hunting so you don’t eat potentially diseased food
Basically everything. Enjoy being able to google these things while you can, and compile knowledgeable information where you can get it. Don’t just trust a Wikihow article or survivalist forum with your buddies, either. Never trust anything without a great deal of accredidation behind it, and keep in mind: Not knowing even one of these things could get you killed.
Isn’t survivalism fun?