Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Urgencies and Emergencies

I made a reference to updating my first aid kit last week, with the idea to make it more functional for "urgencies" instead of just emergencies. Learning the difference between the two will help you tune your preps better.

Emergencies seem pretty obvious, but actual definitions help. An emergency is a situation that has a high likelihood of ending in death or severe, permanent injuries. Things like severe bleeding, broken limbs, and stopped breathing are all definitely emergencies, but so are arcing power lines, chemical leaks, many traffic accidents, and countless other things. Emergencies require immediate, decisive action, and usually professional help to properly resolve.

In medical emergencies, the best an average individual can do is stabilize the patient and keep them going until professional help arrives to transport them to a hospital. This intervention can mean the difference between life and death or serious and permanent harm. These kinds of situations are why first aid kits should have tourniquets, CPR masks, and other lifesaving equipment, and why first responder training is critical. In addition, know your local emergency response phone numbers, and the addresses of places you frequent. If you don't know the actual address, learn to give the best possible description of your location, using cross streets and proper business names if possible.

Urgencies, on the other hand, are things that can generally be handled on scene. They tend to require little, if any, follow up care. Left untreated they can definitely become emergencies, but if they are addressed immediately there is little lasting harm. My burn from a few weeks back was definitely an urgent situation, and so are the plethora of moderate cuts people get every day. Left untreated, small cuts and burns can lead to infection in addition to being painful and generally ruining your day. With better living through chemistry, there's no reason to needlessly deal with that.

With that in mind, the two immediate upgrades to my first aid kit are burn cream and more adhesive bandages. I know my first aid kit is going to look like my mom's purse in some ways, but that's not a bad thing; she had two rambunctious boys and she got pretty good at patching us up. In fact, a mom's purse makes a pretty decent starting point for the urgent bits of a first aid kit, since mothers deal with urgent medical situations at a more frequent rate than the rest of the population. When I got burned, the first person I sought out was a friend of mine with her kids in attendance. I figured if anybody had something to help, a mom with teens and tweens would, and I was right. Don't look to dads for inspiration here; if the ones you encounter are anything like my dad, they're great with major issues, but minor stuff was patched up MacGyver style, usually involving a shop rag and tape. It got the job done, but it wasn't the cleanest patch job, both aesthetically and from a standpoint of proper treatment.

Learn to deal with the little things as well as the big things, and it will make situations pass more smoothly.


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