Letter Re: Comments on Two of the Three Bs: Bullets and Band-Aids

Greetings Jim,
With [the] November 4th [US presidential and congressional election] behind us, many of us are wondering how to proceed with our preps. With regard to the bullets in the “Three B’s” consider this; your firearm will function with one magazine, most with even no magazine, but they all require ammunition. As a prep (as opposed to investment), I put forth that a good supply of ammunition is a higher priority than spare magazines, after purchasing the firearm, of course! In selecting a firearms battery, ammunition availability is a common selection criteria. You should own firearms that ammunition can be purchased readily at any country store in the middle of nowhere. Good choices are .308,.223, .30-06, 12 gauge, 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .22 LR, and possibly 7.62×39. A post-November 4th trip to our local Wal-Mart found them cleaned out of the Federal brand 100 round white boxes of both .223 and 9mm.

Esoteric calibers should play only a limited role in the defensive battery and be supported by more common calibers. A couple of notable exceptions are .50 BMG, and .338 Lapua Magnum. These calibers are in limited use by various military units for very-long range engagement of medium and hard targets. If you own weapons chambered in these cartridges then be sure to obtain a large supply ASAP. These weapons can be very useful for special purposes, and typically represent large financial investments, but are useless without ammunition. If ammunition is hard to find now, it will only be more difficult and expensive later. From that point consider purchasing a quantity of ammunition, in each caliber, that you maintain a commitment to not to use any of it. It’s reasonable to start with calibers that you or your group have the most firearms for, and work down from there. After reserves in each caliber are built up, purchase ammunition for training, target practice, or barter, using the same (most guns to least guns) philosophy. Some people may choose to start with rifle ammunition and work towards pistol ammo. As my favorite Front Sight instructor says, “Your pistol is only to fight your way to a rifle!” A thousand rounds in backstock, of each caliber, is a good place to start (case lots are psychologically harder for me to break open). One needs only to hear of the purported attempt to ban imports of 7.62×39, or the ammunition “registration” bill being pushed in Arizona to realize that there are many magazines, etc. available on the market, but ammunition is a one-time use product. Bans, taxes, or “registration” of loaded ammunition, or components would eventually make gun control a moot point! So stock up now.

With regard to the band-aids in the “Three B’s”, on another blog I happened onto a discussion of first aid kit components. The pre-hospital care giver was advocating obtaining all sorts of advanced tools like IV fluid and sutures. As Josh (hat-tip to my fellow Montanan) pointed in an earlier SurvivalBlog letter ,there are many training, and medical-legal issues with having/using this type of equipment. And as many sources like Ragnar Benson, and Where There is No Doctor point out, these interventions have only a limited role in all but a full of TEOTWAWKI situation. One excellent product that everyone should have in their medical bag that requires no prescription or specific training is a hemostatic agent like Quickclot. Here is a YouTube link to the military report on Quickclot (one specific brand, there are other good ones also) should demonstrate it’s effectiveness. The 6th edition of the NAEMT’s Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) textbook identifies hemostatic agents as most useful in a “delayed transport” scenario, that is, typically greater than one hour to definitive medical care, like what you would find in a wilderness or”grid down” type emergency.

Having the equipment without the proficient skill in its use is exactly like having a firearm in the nightstand and thinking you are good to go. Here are some ideas on medical training in addition to the WRSA, and Medical Corps suggestions that you’ve made. Start out with an American Heart Association (AHA) CPR Healthcare Provider class (Healthcare Provider is the prerequisite for most other training, and much more detailed than the AHA‘s Friends and Family CPR class.) The AHA offers other basic medical training as well. Many community colleges offer excellent Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes, they last about one semester, and may equal up to four college credits). If you are currently enrolled in college this is a great class that offers immediate job opportunities with varied schedules, and may expose you to a career track that you hadn’t considered. Many volunteer fire and ambulance services provide this same training for free with a time commitment to the service after course completion.

Wilderness Medical Associates, and NOLS offer a variety of non-urban setting EMS classes. One of the best educational opportunities that is often overlooked is the National Ski Patrol’s Outdoor Emergency Care Technician program. It closely mirrors the EMT curriculum but emphasizes care in the outdoor setting, and improvisation. Think about this; take the class, learn important skills, and then ski for free! Lastly, as Ragnar Benson points out in some of his books, even doctors use reference materials. In addition to the well known titles like Emergency War Surgery, and Where There is No Doctor, some people may consider purchasing EMT, Paramedic, or the OEC textbook. Gray’s Anatomy or other texts on anatomy/physiology, and pathophysiology are also important references . The key is not just to have the texts, but to learn them as well. Some people may try a self-study program of these resources. This last route is the least desirable, because so many skills like assessment, splinting, etc. require significant practice and experience. As a side note, the first aid kit in your latest auction from Cajun Safety and Survival certainly seems to be well equipped to deal with a variety of emergencies.

Thanks for all you do. Keep up the great work. – J. in Montana (A 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)