Are You Prepared for a Medical Emergency?

I’ve always loved shooting guns and archery.  I was a lot like Ralphie on “A Christmas Story” where all I wanted for Christmas was a BB gun.  I tried every strategy I could come up with but unfortunately, my mom trumped them all.  There was absolutely no way she was going to allow me to pack a BB gun – she just knew I’d shoot my eye out or possibly someone else’s eye.

My first real gun was a Remington bolt action .22 rifle.  My dad gave it to me when I was 10 years old and if my parents would have let me, I would have slept with it.  I loved shooting that rifle and still have the gun today.  It’s one of the most accurate open-site rifles I’ve ever shot.

As much as I loved that rifle, I was only able to shoot it when we went to the mountains and that just wasn’t anywhere often enough.  Luckily, I had received a 30lb. fiberglass recurve bow for Christmas (and yes, I still have the bow as well).  Since I didn’t have a BB gun, I’d take my bow and a few wooden arrows lizard hunting with my buddies.  We’d walk through the mesas near our home in Albuquerque kicking up blue tails and horny toads from the tumble weeds.  I learned quickly that I just wasn’t fast enough on the draw to actually hit a running lizard.

I was determined to improve my hunting abilities so I would practice in the back yard shooting cardboard boxes.  The arrows I was using were nothing like the aluminum of carbon fiber arrows of today.  They were very basic wooden arrows with a metal field tip crimped on the end.  I only had three arrows and they were really showing the signs of wear.  What I didn’t realize was just how worn they really were.

One of my arrows had developed a crack about six inches in front of the fletching.  I could easily see the crack but just didn’t think anything about it until I learned a very painful lesson.  I nocked the cracked arrow, drew it back and sighted in on my cardboard box target.  I released the shaft and everything seemed to slow down as if I was watching the arrow leave my bow in slow motion.

As my bow string pushed against the nock at the back of the arrow, the force caused the arrow to bow and split right where the crack was.  The front part of the arrow flew away from my bow totally missing the target.  The back end of the arrow ended up driving through my left index finger just in front of my first knuckle.

I didn’t feel anything at first and remember just staring at it wondering what to do.  I then decided I better go inside and see if I could somehow remove the arrow.  I came into the kitchen from the garage and went to the knife drawer.  I decided the best course of action was to cut through the flesh on top of the arrow so I could just lift the arrow straight up rather than pulling it out.  This was my first encounter with just how tough human skin really is.  I had unfortunately (on second thought, fortunately) chosen a fairly dull knife.  As I began to saw on my skin, I was surprised I still couldn’t feel anything but was upset that the knife was not slicing through the skin as easily as I had anticipated.

I quickly decided to abandon this approach and knew I needed help to fix this problem.  I could hear my sister in the living room with her boyfriend and decided to walk in there to get help.  My sister first though I was somehow faking it but on closer inspection realized this was real.  I have to clarify one important point here – my parents, especially my dad seldom felt a doctor was needed to address a wound.  If this happened today, I would rush my kid to the emergency room – not the case when I was growing up.

I told my sister how I’d tried to cut the arrow out and she commented on the folly of my attempt.  She explained that the arrow would need to be pulled out and I definitely was not excited by this revelation.  She told me to look away and on the count of three, she would pull the arrow out.  I reluctantly agreed, turned my head and heard my sister begin counting.  One. Two. Then a quick jerk of her hand pulled the arrow right out of my finger.  She totally faked me out and pulled on the count of two!  I’ve still not forgiven her for this.

I never got stitches and pulled out slivers from the wound for several days thereafter.  Somehow, I survived.  It might have gotten a little infected but nothing I couldn’t handle with some antibiotic cream under the Band-Aids.  I still have the scar today and can even see the cut mark where I tried to slice the skin to remove the arrow.

Now, the facts are – I was very lucky.  Had such an accident happened in the wild, I could have died with an infection.  It really is easy to take for granted the extraordinary medical care available to all of us by simply walking into an Emergency Room.  But what if all that was unexpectedly taken away?  Are you prepared to handle more than applying a Band-Aid?

Most first aid kits are really not much more than Band-Aids, gauze and medical tape.  If there is any antibiotic ointment, it’s probably very limited in quantity and does have an expiration date.  The bottom line, most first aid kits are woefully lacking in real world needs.  In addition, there may be specific medical needs for members of your families that cannot be ignored.

So what should you have in a comprehensive first aid kit?  The options are almost limitless and you could spend close to a thousand dollars so you’ll need to decide what would make sense for your personal and family needs.  There are several companies that specialize in very comprehensive first aid kits that can at least serve as a resource, listing the types of items you may want to consider in your own kit.

Here is a link to a kit that has over 700 items – too many to list in this post but may provide a good working list for your own kit.

The Medic | First Aid Kit

I personally own this first aid kit and have added several additional items to customize it to my family’s needs.  Please don’t neglect this part of your preps – your health and well being are far too important.  You never know when a bizarre accident may happen and the option of heading to your local hospital emergency room may not be an option.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry