Published on February 10th, 2021
In the quest to prepare my listeners for whatever Mother Nature, or the nut jobs in Washington DC, might throw at us, that conversation should always start with identifying the “worst-case” scenarios, to ensure that if you get anywhere close to that, then you’ll be prepared for those less horrible. In a similar manner to the awesome guys and ladies of ZERT (Zombie Eradication Response Team from Las Vegas Nevada), I too use the term Zombie to capture the fear and uncertainty that accompanies natural or man-made disasters, whatever they might involve. While there always seems to be people wandering around aimlessly after a sizable event, some even chanting unintelligible English, the idea that natural disasters strike suddenly, typically throwing ideas of order and planning in the destroyed toilet. During natural disasters there are many injuries that can’t be avoided, however there is substantial list of injuries that can be avoided altogether. It is primarily because of my workplace safety experiences that I have added the fifth element to my version of the fab-five (rule of three plus one). For those of you who just tuned into the show, the fab-five is one of the mantras you will hear many times, and essentially it is the rule of three plus the one I added because of its importance, protective equipment.
Greetings my friends, family members, fellow Alaskans, and fellow Americans, wherever you are. Thankfully the new administration took the reins in Washington DC without too much incident. Today we are happy to report that the vaccine distribution is going much better with the new administration being much more ambitious at the end goal. While the new team driving the country seem to be sorting themselves out, Americans seem to remain as divided as they were before the election. Welcome to the Alaska Outlaw podcast, I am the Alaska Outlaw, and I hope to be your host on a journey of understanding the types of injuries can be expected during any type of large scale event. A kind of explanation to put the “rubber on the road” for that first aid manual we all read.
In the whole mindset of being prepared, we will find that it will be those insignificant injuries that become the most catastrophic. This is really when the small, goes big and bad. When small nicks on nasty things can lead to losses of limbs, or even death of the victim. Human’s greatest enemy is violating the sanctity of our skin and introduce an infectious foreign body into the human body. Even minor infections can be lethal, and can cripple even the best prepared or healthy. In today’s episode I want to look at the potential of the most probable injuries we’ll encounter during one of these zombie events, and evaluate the reality of not having antibiotics because of one reason or another. Obviously in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse or civil war, and even during a large scale natural event, the healthcare system will be overwhelmed, or ineffective in providing services.
So, essentially our introductions to injury types will be limited to the most probable, again, evaluating the potential for recovery without the use of modern medicine, or the health care system as a whole. With no further ado, let’s look at the most frequent injuries.
- Broken bones are a fairly straight forward injury, and occurs in a multitude of ways. The list of these types of breaks is lengthy, however for our discussion today, I’ll identify two types: inside the skin, and protruding through the skin to reveal the bone outside the skin surface.
- Lacerations and abrasions. For those of you knowledgeable here, old news, but for some you will need to know the difference. A laceration is a cut, how deep, and how long is not nearly as crucial as where it happens. There are several locations on the human body where even a slight laceration can be very problematic. Abrasions on the other hand are more severe “scrapes”, and while typical much more shallow, they can expose more of the epidermis. Abrasions are typically more prone to infections because of the larger surface area involved.
- Punctures are the next on the list, and can be very problematic due to the item impaled with, the object potentially has more contact space with internal organs, and/or deep tissue. This fact allows it to leave more foreign substances inside the human body, thereby potentially depositing more infectious materials deep within the body.
- Biological infections. This one is incredibly difficult to eradicate after its introduction. While the contact area inside the lungs is a direct path to the blood stream, leading to all parts of the body. Without going too far down the fear mongering rabbit hole here, there are many biological agents that can be absorbed through the skin with essentially the same results as if inhaled directly. The immediate dissipation throughout the human body makes it much more complicated to track down and eliminate. In the exact same way that through the skin type of infections immediately begin the tissue surrounding the wound, biological agents begin to attack the internal tissues.
- Weather related injuries. This injury is obviously dependent on the environmental weather conditions at the time of the event and immediately after. The reality of these types of injuries typically cause death to the afflicted tissue, and in some cases, loss of limbs, or death. As this tissue dies, it has the potential to cause levels of infections to the adjacent tissue. In addition, to a degree, while they may be immediately avoidable, long term exposure may defeat almost all forms of protection.
Again, these are the bigger types, or high volume injuries in a disaster type event. First-Aid following a natural disaster, or in this case, the Zombie apocalypse is really where reading your basic first-aid book is coming to come in handy. Again, I’m calling out the term “zombie” to identify a threat against humankind here, and not identifying the mindless drones of Washington DC, err, movies. Although many emergency room doctors and nurses will tell us that, the hardest patients to treat is a family member, or their self. Keep this in the forefront of your mind as you and your family begin the assessments following a large-scale event.
But, here you are. In reading any first aid book, it will tell us the first things to focus on are the A, B, Cs. Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. So, is there airway clear? Are they breathing? Do they have a pulse? If you have any questions here, consult the little booklet that comes with a decent first aid kit. Not going to travel down the actual manual.
Suffice to say, let’s talk about the field dressing of the injuries we identified before, and in essentially no particular order, some basic care ideas.
- Bleeding from lacerations, abrasions, and puncture. Just like the firsts aid book says, we need to apply direct pressure to the would with enough dressing to completely cover the wound. Once the bleeding is stopped, determine if stitches and/or a butterfly bandage needs to be applied. After the bandage is applied, apply natural honey over the entire wound. Keep the area clean and dry otherwise, watch for redness. Now, even as an EMT we were trained to leave impaled objects in place bandaged there, then transport to local hospital. Depending on a mitigation of factors involved, this remains the best choice. Depending on the area, and the item impaled with, it may make more sense to push it all the way through, however, that advice would ONLY apply to extremities, and even then, you run a risk of opening blood vessels, or other dangerous parts.
- Splinting and bone setting. Both of these scenarios can be incredibly painful for the patient. Internal fractures may be separated, and therefor extreme care must be taken when attempting to reset a bone with an interior break. Externally protruding breaks can be far messier to reset. In addition, you’ll have to deal with the laceration as well. Again, my advice does not supersede a doctor, and ultimately it’s good to keep one on speed dial for moments like these. Your first aid handbook should give you enough knowledge to help the injured to the health system.
- Infections (biological, animal). Infection is the most dangerous killer of them all. Regardless as to whether it is inhaled, ingested, or absorbed, the effect remains the same. Superficial infections do give some warning that things are right, however internal infections are not as obvious. However, don’t kid yourself, those internal infections can be quite lethal to the patient. This is where the list below may come in handy.
- Weather related. Your trust first aid book is going to offer you some great insight here. While the ultimate idea here is get the patient out of the weather condition, and moderate their temperature. If they’re frozen, slowly warm them up, if they’re fried, slowly cool them down. Obviously even the most protected can only stay that way for a finite amount of time, so moderate the exposure to avoid getting here at all.
Ultimately, hopefully now I’ve relayed the importance of the fifth item that I added to my fab-five. Primarily, the most dangerous threat here is infection. Depending on where you are where the injury happens, the infection spreading from the site of the injury could be your biggest enemy. So, let’s take just a minute to review some natural antibiotics.
A quick online search of any medical news today (webmd.com) gives us a list of seven (7) natural antibiotics that might have some value in our longer term preps:
- Cultures across the world have long recognized garlic for its preventive and curative powers. Research has found that garlic can be an effective treatment against many forms of bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Garlic has even been considered for use against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
- Since the time of Aristotle, honey has been used as an ointment that helps wounds to heal and prevents or draws out infection. Healthcare professionals today have found it helpful in treating chronic wounds, burns, ulcers, bedsores, and skin grafts. For example, results of a study from 2016 demonstrate that honey dressings can help to heal wounds. The antibacterial effects of honey are usually attributed to its hydrogen peroxide content. However, manuka honey fights off bacteria, though it has a lower hydrogen peroxide content. A 2011 study reported that the best-known type of honey inhibits approximately 60 kinds of bacteria. It also suggests that honey successfully treats wounds infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Antibacterial properties aside, honey may help wounds to heal by providing a protective coating that fosters a moist environment.
- The scientific community also recognizes ginger as a natural antibiotic. Several studies, including one published in 2017, have demonstrated ginger’s ability to fight many strains of bacteria. Researchers are also exploring ginger’s power to combat seasickness and nausea and to lower blood sugar levels.
- Echinacea has been used to treat infections for many years. Native American and other traditional healers have used echinacea for hundreds of years to treat infections and wounds. Researchers are beginning to understand why. A study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology reports that extract of Echinacea purpurea can kill many different kinds of bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes). S. pyogenes is responsible for strep throat, toxic shock syndrome, and the “flesh-eating disease” known as necrotizing fasciitis. Echinacea may also fight inflammation associated with bacterial infection. It is available to purchase in health stores or online.
- Goldenseal is usually consumed in tea or capsules to treat respiratory and digestive problems. However, it may also combat bacterial diarrhea and urinary tract infections. In addition, results of a recent study support the use of goldenseal to treat skin infections. In a lab, goldenseal extracts were used to prevent MRSA from damaging tissue. A person taking prescription medications should check with a doctor before taking goldenseal, as this supplement can cause interference. Goldenseal also contains berberine, an important component of natural antibiotics. This alkaloid is not safe for infants, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Goldenseal capsules are available to purchase in health stores or online.
- Clove has traditionally been used in dental procedures. Research is now finding that clove water extract may be effective against many different kinds of bacteria, including E. coli.
- Some believe that oregano boosts the immune system and acts as an antioxidant. It may have anti-inflammatory properties. While researchers have yet to verify these claims, some studies show that oregano is among the more effective natural antibiotics, particularly when it is made it into an oil.
There are no guarantee for these natural antibiotics, however in reality, there is guarantee with the high powered ones of the medical community either. Therefore the Alaska Outlaw can’t promise you anything with these, however, I will say that the human race existed for thousands of years before antibiotics were discovered, so, I’m sure they must have been able to do something right. Not to mention, the first step is cleaning. By using some soap and water on the affected area, many of the weaker germs carrying bacteria and other stuff, is destroyed.
Ultimately, it is immediately following a large-scale natural disaster that we all must be prepared to fight a war of bacteria and viruses that can have just as much impact to our health as the initial event. Using basic hygiene practices can keep many of the less virulent invaders at bay, and stepping up the hygiene game puts us miles in front of our ancestors who battled these same diseases without the aid of cleanliness. A little goes a long way here, so in our quest to be prepared, basic items such as soap and shampoo, sanitizing methods (to include boiling water) can all play an integral part in keeping us healthy, and ready for whatever societal fallout may occur.
As always my friends, thank you so much for taking this time to spend with us here at the Alaska Outlaw. I am honored to be of some service, and I think we can all agree that being prepared for anything means that we prepare the basics, and adapt them to each situation. Remember, stay safe, keep your head on a swivel, and be true to who you are… peace.