It may sound a little crazy but I’m treating Ebola and other illnesses as motivation to get my basic medical preps in order. It is the same thing (though scarier) that I do when I see any sort of disaster in the news. I follow how the disaster unfolds and try to anticipate how I would react and check just how well I could adjust to that disaster with what I have on hand. I have to say I was behind on my 1st aid and medical preps. I wasn’t terrible I have plenty bandages, most OTC medicines and probably above average 1st aid training. But I sure was not focusing on pandemics as a potential disaster.
Some good news is if you are a prepper and have most of the basics on hand you are ahead of the game if there is a Quarantine order! You don’t have to worry about going to the store at the last minute to stock up. So I wasn’t to worried about my ability to hunker down and ride out this sort of “storm”. Now most of us have family and friends that are little less pro-active and they will be needing the basics and quite possibly medical care, equipment as well as knowledge on how to deal with an illness. Some recommend that you go into full lock down, no one in or out no matter what happens and that is an option though not one I could choose easily. I don’t think that is a realistic response at least for me. Would I take in an Ebola victim that is family or part of the community I’m trying to build? Yes although depending on circumstances may change my basic response. It is sort of dangerous and there are some risks involved but I think the risks can be managed or at least minimized. If your plan is hunkering down and no one in or out that is fine it’s just not my plan.
I have to say I’m glad that I got my new camp tent as it can work as a short term quarantine for exposed but asymptomatic people. Now they would be kept outside the home but they could be fed good food, have good sanitation and stay warm at least till November with my camping stuff. The RV is another option for isolation. That’s the plan for isolation and containment to start with people exposed but not showing symptoms. Now for the sick person. They must be isolated but they also need supportive care as early as possible. Please if you think you have a deadly contagious disease don’t go to the Emergency room or a primary care facility. Call an ambulance and let them know your concerns and recommend they take all safety precautions! You put on a mask, gloves and suit if you have it on hand. Do not expose others to whatever you may have or are treating.
If at all possible stay home and start treating the symptoms no matter what the patient symptoms are! Chicken pox, Measles, Mumps all have a nasty 20-30% fatality rate in adults. Heck in Ada county two older women died from this year’s flu. So being proactive in treatment in all diseases is your best option. Think of those illnesses in the news as a test of your medical preps.
Now start thinking about building your protection in layers.
- The patient : Should wear a simple mask at all times as they will feel awful and can not be expected to follow procedures. Give the patient plenty of facial tissues, sanitary wipes, liquids, healthy snack foods, entertainment and even a job of monitoring a short wave radio or communicating via a home wifi network. TV and DVD’s whatever it takes to keep them engaged and mentally fighting the disease.
- The care giver: You must use layers of protection and have plan for staying safe. I like the idea of 3 layers of gloves mixing some of the cheaper gloves with some very strong gloves at skin level. Latex gloves can cause allergies but are cheap. There are no rules that say you can’t use the expensive Nitrile gloves first, then a latex glove and then a super cheap food service type glove for 3 layers of protection.
- What you do for gloves you can do for the rest of your protection like goggles and masks. I have N95 masks and a lot of simple surgical/dust masks. Now the cheap masks I plan to use on the patient but I will add those on top of my N95 0r N 100 masks for a layer of protection. The safety goggles I have do not have wrap around protection so I’m looking to add a full face shield next week.
- Protective clothing: I have bought the Tyvek suits but most rain suits might be a better choice if a bit more expensive and sweaty to work in. I would recommend you shower down while wearing the suit. Add a spray down with your bleach bottle then rinse again before removing any outer garments. As you remove garments repeat those steps and you should be safe from any infectious liquids you picked up in the sickroom. Yes it is slow and tedious but it will also keep you safe. Remeber: sanitize, clean, remove a layer and repeat!
- The Sickroom: A bedroom with access to a bathroom and a door. If you are just treating an average cold the door should provide enough of a barrier/ isolation for minor colds. A window for fresh air and circulation. Fresh air is good for patients as long as doesn’t create a draft that chills. If the disease is nasty cover with plastic sheetsing at the vents and door frame but leave the window open for fresh air. Now your plastic spray bottle of bleach becomes important. Always spray down the plastic when entering the room and exiting. Nothing leaves the sickroom without a spray down of bleach! Disposable plates, utensils, trash and trash buckets, your suit and any laundry or clean up items. Pack up all dispsosible items in a bucket and then burn them safely. Yes it is a lot of steps to take but your life and the life of your tribe depend on it!
I suspect many may think I’m over reacting and being anal-retentive about sick room procedures. But Ebola has a 50%-90% kill rate and some childhood illnesses are in 25%-33% fatality rates when caught as adult. Look around your family and or tribe and figure out the math of who might live and die at 9 of 10 or 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 and not do your utmost to protect them and also yourself. If you are ready and prepared to do all these things you are ready for any illness that goes pandemic and have a great start for dealing with any “Biological weapons” that may happen via terrorists or WWIII.
UPDATE: I have seen the so called procedures for putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and none of the procedures include a bleach spray down as you enter or exit the “sickroom” or as you remove layers of protection. This looks to me as a critical oversight on someones part. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/ppe-poster.pdf