Survival Scenarios: Sick or Injured when the SHTF

The typical prepping and survival plan assumes that the prepper is healthy and fit. You plan to grow some of your own food. That takes a lot of manual labor. You better be in good health. You plan to be able to defend your home and property against criminals and miscreants. But this also assumes a certain level of health. Self-sufficiency is an important, if not indispensable part of most prepping plans. But what happens if you are sick or injured, for an extended period of time? You need a backup plan.

One consideration is obtaining help from others: family, friends, or neighbors. When the SHTF, you might not be able to go it alone if you are in great health. And if you have some health problems, you definitely need the help of other persons. This is very tricky because the types of situations described simply as SHTF are times of desperation. People behave differently when they are faced with grave danger on a daily basis. I’m sure you can find some person who handle the pressure well and remain reasonable and reliable. But be careful. Don’t let a good track record before the SHTF fool you into trusting someone who has become a self-serving bastard due to fear.

If you can’t find help from the good will of those around you, perhaps you can hire someone to assist you. Money is always a good incentive. But of course bartering can also be useful. Trading work for food will not be uncommon once the economy collapses, or some other disaster strikes society at large.

Another consideration is health care. Make sure you have plenty of over-the-counter medications, for a range of ailments. You might also want to take a look at our past posts: Fish Antibiotics For Human Use? and Fish Antibiotics for Human Use: Pros and Cons.

For my money, a grain of prevention is worth a gram of cure. So I recommend stocking up on health supplements, especially vitamins and minerals. You diet may be less diverse and less healthy after the SHTF, and that will make your health problems worse. I’m not saying that supplements can cure you, but it helps in many cases.

The modern health care system, in my humble opinion, is a house of cards. It depends heavily on money from government and a few large health care corporations. If the economy collapses, the flow of money will slow to a trickle. You might have a hard time finding medical care, even if you have ample financial resources. So here’s where it helps if you are friends with a nurse or doctor or paramedic. Alternately, especially in a small town, you might be able to arrange health care privately, paying with cash or barter, apart from the usual network of doctors’ offices and hospitals.

When you lack good medical advice from doctors and nurses, you might be tempted to take your advice from the internet. There are some good online sources on healthcare, and some very unreliable sources. Beware of any source that touts an alternative medicine cure. There are a lot of crazy health claims online. On the other hand, good sources like WebMD and Healthline can be misunderstood by the lay person. Don’t just look up your symptoms and then jump to the conclusion that you have some rare disease or life-threatening condition. Often a set of symptoms can indicate a range of different ailments. So take your own online researches with more than a grain or two of salt.

If your health problem affects your ability to do manual labor, you might want to band together with family or friends, in the same household. There’s a reason that humanity organized itself, for many thousands of years, in extended families and tribes. You need the help of others to survive when times are difficult. I’m not saying you need your own tribe. (Or am I?) But the idea of one person getting an apartment and a job, and surviving more or less on his or her own, relies on a safe and stable society. And that idea completely falls apart once a severe long-term disaster strikes. A person living alone will just be a target for those who are willing to use violence to secure whatever they need or want.

I have an extensive first aid kit, and I know how to use it. I recommend, first and foremost, taking an advanced first aid course. Then and only then should you build an advanced first aid kit, with stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, suture kit, and all manner of bandages and wound treatments. Along with the kit, buy some first aid books.

Now suppose that you are very ill or seriously injured, and you need to be hospitalized — after the SHTF. Would you be better off in a small community hospital, or in a big city hospital? Many city hospitals are tertiary care centers. They take patients transferred from other hospitals, because the city hospital has great capability for more severe cases. But that doesn’t mean that, in every situation, you’d be better off there. If you don’t need the specialized care of a tertiary care hospital, that is to say, if you have any real choice in the matter, which type of hospital is better?

My lowly opinion is that, in some cases, you are better off in the local hospital. You are closer to family and friends. Competent doctors and nurses are not found only in large hospitals with great reputations. And after the SHTF, the tertiary care hospitals may be overwhelmed. I’m sure the local hospital will be crowded as well. But a city hospital draws patients from a much large population than a local one.

Last point: talking is healing. When you are sick or injured, especially if you don’t have good access to the usual health care system, talking to people who have had a similar health problem can be very informative. Take what they say with a bit of skepticism, since they are not medical professionals. But, in my experience, it is useful.

Stay healthy and keep prepping.

– Thoreau

2 Responses to Survival Scenarios: Sick or Injured when the SHTF

  1. don’t expect big city hospitals to be there post SHTF, even if they haven’t been looted or burnt to the ground their supplies and staff numbers will probably be very low.
    small community hospitals are all being shut in my country and will soon cease to exist.

  2. This is one reason why humans are pack animals. We cannot survive without the help of others. Taking care of each other helps to preserve the tribe. It’s why we love one another. It drives us to help one another. The bottom line is, be prepared to move out of your nuclear family or fewer people living with you, and move in with your extended family or friends, during SHTF times. Form a larger clan. Form a pack. It’s worth it, even if you have to give up some food.