EMT is perhaps the most valuable skill for the survivalist. It will serve both in everyday use and as they would if called upon in some future emergency. Hunting, gardening, and repair skills come immediately to mind but perhaps none is more likely to find lifesaving application today or down the road than the one that deals with the emergency medical treatment of the sick or injured.
To gain proficiency in such emergency treatment the survival-minded individual might consider the course of study open for the emergency medical technician (EMT). This is a readily available, practical and intense study where students balance book work and lectures with the hands-on practice of state-of-the-art, lifesaving techniques.
The study culminates with participation in real ambulance runs with working EMTs or paramedics. Interested readers will find courses available through local institutes of higher learning — Red Cross or other public service organizations and fire or emergency rescue departments in the local community. Quite often fire or rescue departments that are manned by volunteers will provide free schooling for those who are interested in volunteer duty.
This is an excellent way for the survivalist to both receive instruction and to return service to his or her local community. The EMT trained individual will, over the course of time have a chance to provide aid in various real-life emergencies.
A first note
Before discussing the areas of knowledge accompanying EMT training, there are a few points that should be noted. First, neither the study nor practice of EMT skills are for the squeamish. For the most part, this will not deter serious individuals, but you should be ready.
You should also know that EMT training is not for the “armchair” survivalist as it requires study and time, but I can personally guarantee that the rewards more than equal the effort. Considering the scenarios that many of us anticipate in the future, the acquisition of these skills is invaluable. You will also find that your training literature will be a cornerstone of your survival library.
The training can also lead to survival-related employment as positions available for trained EMTs are readily available in many locations. The EMT position is also a stepping stone to the higher paying and advanced knowledge position of a paramedic.
Looking from the survivalist perspective EMT skills are first priority knowledge for their strength is the immediate treatment of injury or illness and stabilization of the patient. In a medical emergency, It is often those first few seconds or minutes that decide the outcome.
Instruction begins with an overview of EMT responsibilities and capabilities and an introduction to the laws that govern the performance at the EMT. Then begins the most basic medical study by learning human anatomy. This area is critical for both the evaluation of the patient and in order to communicate with the hospital emergency room staff (with whom the EMT will develop a close working relationship) via radio either en route or at the accident scene.
Anatomy study involves memorization and detail but is a basic skill and includes the skeleton, internal organs, and location of major blood vessels.
While the order of study may not follow precisely my listing, it will entail the following: Patient assessment, respiratory or cardiovascular systems, and injury thereof by location (chest injury) or type (control of bleeding or shock). Early in training, the technique for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will be discussed and practiced.
This technique should be mastered by every man, woman, and older child in the U.S. and has already been responsible for the saving of untold victims of drowning, heart attack and other injuries. The students will spend a great deal of time getting acquainted the realistic CPR practice mannequin.
Closed Air Passages
In close conjunction with this technique will come the knowledge of how to open and maintain an unobstructed airway and EMT techniques arc learned that are specific for adults, children, and infants.
For instance, CPR for an infant requires a much lighter breath stroke and careful protection to avoid damage to the neck. The student will discover tremendous but absolutely necessary attention to detail.
The treatment of shock (defined as the collapse of the cardiovascular system) is another subject discussed in detail as to cause, type and treatment. Shock is the deadly companion of illness and injury and is induced by the inadequate flow of blood.
An appreciation of its significance is seen in the fact that the brain cannot lose circulation for longer than four to six minutes without permanent damage.
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Once the techniques for basic life support, the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation), are mastered the student will learn how to use artificial ventilation equipment and oxygen. This includes the insertion of oropharyngeal airways (plastic breathing aids that may only be used on the unconscious patient), pocket masks, bag valve masks, and others.
I fondly remember my first experience with a bag-valve-mask system. The particular unit had been used by a procession of students and had become loose and kept coming apart while I was attempting to obtain an airtight seal on the practice mannequin.
While this was humorous in the classroom, it drove home a very important point, the need to know your equipment and its maintenance. This is a sore point among a number of the survivalist medical people that I know. They advise against the purchase of any medical equipment that the owner does not know how to use.
I’ve heard some wildly funny although deadly sarcastic stories about novice survival medical “experts” operating by candlelight with their emergency field surgery kits while consulting the NATO Emergency War Surgery text (not for the novice).
Other subjects will include the ability to perform an IPS, initial patient survey, where within two minutes the student must do a head-to-toe examination of the patient.
This is particularly significant in real life where the patient will often be unconscious. As little movement of the patient as possible is critical, and yet the EMT must be thorough.
In class practice, the student performing the IPS had to locate a penny hidden on the victim, needless to say, this could lead to some amusing incidents.
Emergency childbirth, recognition of diabetic coma or insulin shock, evisceration, eye injury, spinal damage, epilepsy, pediatric emergencies, heat and cold exposure, poisoning, and drowning are all covered, as are exposure to hazardous materials, radiation, and electrical shock.
An area that involved the entire class in participation was that of applying dressings, bandages, various types of splints and boarding of patients with suspected neck or spinal injuries.
When you first begin to attempt these skills, it instills a tremendous respect for the men and women who are deft professionals working in often severe weather conditions and under pressure.
After the introduction and practice of these basic skills, the students are introduced to the ambulance or emergency vehicle and its handling and maintenance.
An extrication workshop is also attended where an amazing assortment of prying, cutting and lock-breaking equipment is demonstrated on some unfortunate remnant of a city’s better days.
Often the EMT will arrive on the scene of a vehicular accident only to find patient or patients pinned into the twisted wreckage, and it is not uncommon to remove doors, roof, and steering column to extricate a victim.
As if the above subject is not enough to master, the students who wish to become state certified must pass a rigid exam with both written and practical areas. While these tests may seem traumatic, they are mild to performance at a real-life emergency.
Some samples of the practical aspect: finding a non-breathing baby in a crib and evaluating and applying the treatment, and encountering an unconscious adult male who has fallen from some height to a concrete floor.
At some point during training, the student will begin to ride an ambulance with professional EMTs. This exposure to real situations is what drives home the value of the training. A close friend treated an unconscious patient with CPR while the EMTs worked feverishly to manage six bullet wounds.
A last word on EMT
Everyone I know who has completed this study will attest to its inestimable value, and the knowledge that you gather here may someday save the life of a loved one or a member of your survival group. EMT training should be at the top of your list for skills to acquire.