Letter Re: When Bugging Out is Not an Option: Hunkering Down with a Quadriplegic

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JWR:
I was contemplating writing an article for the current round of your competition, but after reading the “hunkering down with a quadriplegic” bit, I don’t think I’ll bother. I’d personally vote for his to win.

I have a cousin who at 17 was paralyzed from the neck down. Now, 20-odd years later, I’m an EMT and I frequently see people (whether grievously injured or not) who must be removed inert and intact from a house that is near-complete inaccessible in its normal condition. Just last night I had to deal with a situation like this — hauling someone out of a house I could barely squeeze into even when I wasn’t holding a stretcher.

Ramps, wider doors, removing carpet and other clutter: I’ll easily agree with these. Firearms and wheelchairs on hand: Absolutely

However, to me the most striking part of the aforementioned article is the danger of bed sores, or pressure sores. To someone who has never dealt with them, a pressure sore might sound no more serious than a mosquito bite. And for some people, in certain situations, that analogy is apt. Some pressure sores can be dealt with by using nothing more than a Band-aid and some Neosporin. For other people (like family members of mine) mosquito bites are an invitation to MRSA–an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can kill. In my job, I recently had to take a non-verbal, semi-conscious quadriplegic to “wound care” 50 miles away from his nursing home. The nursing home has qualified nursing staff on hand. I honestly respect them for the work they do. But they weren’t equipped to deal with a somewhat serious bedsore.

We delivered this patient to wound care for more than six months, at least once per week, until finally, yesterday, he was pronounced healed. I haven’t personally seen the wound this week, so I can’t really comment on the prognosis.

This may be read as a comment on inadequacies in our healthcare system. That is not my intent. Rather, I’m saying that even trained healthcare providers can fail to stop an incipient killer such as MRSA or other infections. Also, treating injuries/wounds in the long-term involves much more than Neosporin and a Band-aid. If you anticipate or can imagine any serious injuries (by animal, axe or enemy), you must be willing and able to treat them aggressively both in the short-term and in the long. That means prevention, treatment and follow-through now, or debridement, further treatment, and … well, I think you get it.

Not all wounds can be treated with one of the extremes of healthcare — a small bandage or a blow-out kit. To be truly prepared, get ready for those wounds that don’t heal as soon as you stop the bleeding. And some of those more serious wounds might be caused simply by sitting still. – J.D.C. in Mississippi

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