Where would we be without the hospital system that we have grown accustomed to? One in ten Americans are admitted to hospital each year and many more receive assessment and treatment as an outpatient. However, as unlikely as it may sound, we need to be prepared for the day when our hospital system fails. Whether it is the result of poor management, its inability to cope with a surge in population growth or the result of an epidemic which spreads across the United States and leaves hospitals unable to treat vast numbers of seriously ill people, failure of the hospital system will always remain a possibility. With this in mind, it pays to be organized now should the worst happen in the future. Here we consider three steps that we can all take to ensure that we have the necessary skills and equipment to hand should we be unable to receive hospital treatment.
Take an advanced first aid course
Although basic first aid courses do at great job at teaching you how to manage cuts, sprains and broken bones, and to give basic life support to maintain someone’s breathing and circulation, if you don’t have access to hospital care it’s vital that you have a working knowledge of managing a greater range of medical situations. This will prove invaluable if family or friends suddenly take ill or are involved in an accident; hopefully they will also invest in this training to provide assistance to you should you need it. During advanced first aid you will learn about identifying and managing injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, pelvis, spine, bones and soft tissue; monitoring symptoms and injuries will also be dealt with. Additionally, treating casualties in a rescue situation will be covered, as well as managing shock and fluid replacement. These courses can last up to five days and carry a significant cost, but having the peace of mind that you would be able to cope in the worst case scenario is priceless.
Purchase a medical first aid kit
We probably all have a first aid of sorts at home, even if it is just a collection of band-aids, a triangular bandage, a thermometer and some antiseptic. With the knowledge and skills developed during the advanced first aid course you will be able to make use of the items included in an enhanced first aid kit, designed to include everything needed to deal with a medical emergency. Although the content of medical first aid kits does vary, along with a wide range of dressings and bandages they will often contain more high-tech equipment such as a blood pressure monitor, a handheld suction device, an oxygen cylinder and mask. Defibrillators can be purchased separately, which talk you through step by step how to use this life saving piece of equipment. Many first aid kits come in emergency kits as well. Make sure that you not only have a first aid kit but also food, water, and other tools that will help you survive in an emergency situation.
Familiarize yourself with over the counter medication
While the range of over the counter medications that can be purchased is a lot smaller than those on prescription, failure of the hospital system may result in difficulty obtaining prescriptions and therefore increased reliance on those we can purchase ourselves. There has already been talk of taking widely used drugs that treat conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes off prescription. It is wise to be aware of which drugs are readily available and what they can be used for. Medications that are currently available off prescription include those to treat pain and fever, colds and flu, asthma, allergies, skin and sleep problems. Anti-sickness, antacids, anti-diarrheals, laxatives and medications to help quit smoking and aid weight loss are also available without a prescription. Although prescription drugs are commonly available over the internet without a prescription, there is no guarantee of their quality and there are safety issues around the lack of a thorough assessment before they are dispensed.
Despite following these steps it would still be essential to maintain your insurance, as even if the hospital system fails in your area, you may still be able to obtain access to a primary care physician for treatment, which your medical cover will help to pay for. The insurance company may also be able to arrange for you to have treatment elsewhere.