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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Supplies for a Well Stocked First Aid Kit for Homesteaders: Guest Post over at Simplify, Live, Love

I am Danelle, mother and farmer at the Stamps Family Farm. I write about my family's adventures in sustainable farming, special needs parenting, and learning to cook over at My Total Perspective Vortex.
 In 2009 we moved to a 40 acre farm in Southern Iowa with no experience and a BIG dream! Our blog is the story of how that happened and how we live our way through it and all the blessings that have happened along the way.  We now have a llama, Icelandic sheep, pigs, a cow or two, ducks, chickens, peafowl, cats, dogs, a parrot, and a corn snake.....oh and thousands of bees! SO MANY BEES.

On our journey we have had many mishaps, many bloody mishaps. This has caused me to slowly and thoroughly revise the contents of my first aid kit. I'm not talking about choosing one bandage brand over another, rather, changing the way I look at emergencies all together.

We live 5 miles from the nearest hospital. That hospital is not a trauma centre. Emergency care will require life flight to the nearest urban hospital 65 miles away. Our fire department is 5 miles away and crewed by volunteers. The one time we have had to call them out to our farm, the response time was 3 minutes. THREE MINUTES. When we lived in the city, 10-15 minutes was standard even living blocks from the station.

No, in the countryside I live in, the local farmers drop their tools and run to help. Lucky for us, our event was not life threatening or even bloody. Lily (age 6 at the time) was wedged in a hole and could not escape it, nor could I pull her out. It took five full grown men, firemen at that, to dislodge her. She was not in danger of dying, not bleeding out, just scared and angry.

The bloody events at our farm have involved livestock and it was those experiences that led me to rethink what supplies I needed for my kit.

1) Bandaids are useless. The are psychological tricks made for calming freaked out toddlers. Ok, not really, and I do keep a box on hand, but they are not much good in a real emergency.

What do I use instead? Disposable Diapers. One side is absorbent and the other non stick. Pair that with "med wrap" which is a stretchy bandage that sticks to itself and you have a decent blood stopping bandage. We have 10 rolls of it on hand. That is why I keep disposable diapers in my glove box and first aid kit. We had to wrap a ewe's (sheep) leg after a predator attack and this was the bandage the vet told us to use. The local pharmacy didn't carry sterile pads or gauze big enough. A real wound would need more than a 2x2 square. If I am doing field triage for livestock or people, I need to plan for it to be big enough. That may buy us enough time for help to arrive.

2) For our livestock we use "vet spray" to clean wounds. It is basically a gel alcohol with a numbing agent. It could technically work on people, in theory is a good solution for skinned knees of children running by....but the local pharmacy carries a similar and wildly more expensive wound spray that is approved for people. So use that one. Vinegar works pretty well too, but stings.

Basically, clean the wound (soap and water works well) pat dry and then bandage if necessary.

3) Epi pen. We keep bees. None of us need an epi pen, but a guest might and minutes count. For minor stings without anaphylactic shock, clean the sting site after the stinger is removed (or bite site since some wasps bite instead of sting). I apply a gel benedryl directly to the bite. I find this more effective than oral dosing. I keep the oral on hand for our cat though. She has had an allergic reaction to a vaccine and has to have this. The same is possible for people, but we've never had to dose for it.

4) Honey. Honey has a lot of good things going for it. We keep honey sticks on hand for electrolytes for people in heat stroke or shock AND for livestock in shock. I learnt this trick from a our goat keeping friend walking us through our first traumatic night after a coyote pack attacked our sheep. If we could keep them from going into shock, they might survive. In a major accident, the same is true for people.

5) We also have a variety of things on hand for the livestock: needles and syringes, injectable penicillin, various vitamins and minerals that can save their lives based on specific illness or trauma, wormer, iodine, lube, and pesticide sprays (animal safe, screw worm is the stuff of nightmares).

There are not human equivalents for these, but generally if people need these they can get them once under care of a physician. Livestock care requires quite a lot of instances where the vet is on the phone ans tells us to administer xyz. 
6) Industrial BURN GEL. Water-Jel is the brand. This is what Chad was given when he worked with giant print machines and it works like a miracle. We have a wood stove and Chad has had one too many mishaps with hot engine and electric arcs. I have scars all over my hand from oven grates and cast iron pan handles. Ugh. We buy this in bulk and have travel packets.
7) I have a lot of other things in our people kit too. Scissors, rubber bands, tums, razor blade, tweezers, coconut oil, asprin, advil, rash cream, alcohol wipes, floss, eye flush, nasal saline, ear cones, baking soda, citric acid, and mineral oil. Peroxide for puncture wounds. Customize for your own needs. I also have a lot of tinctures and herbal salves. Those are not for bloody, call 911, emergencies though.

I do know this though, the pre-made kit that can be bought at the grocery store won't cut it at our farm.

I would also recommend taking first responder classes when the opportunity presents. Get CPR trained. Even consider full on EMT certification. Technology has certainly changed the landscape of emergency care and first response, but the memories of my aunt's rural farm in the 1980's haunt me. There were no cell phones. She owned her own ambulance and firetruck. She was a paramedic. If she had not been medically trained so many people would have died. Too often car accidents on tristy rural roads had tragic endings, more would have been worse if my aunt had not been there. Now, cell phones and GPS and helicopters make for better outcomes, but I would not rely too much on such things. Helicopters can't fly in a blizzard and cell phone reception is still iffy out on the prairies.


 

So, what would you add?

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