Essential Medical Skills for SHTF Situations

A medic providing care during an SHTF situation.

Hey there, my preparedness-minded friends! Today, I’m diving into essential medical skills for SHTF situations. This article is based on a recent conversation with survival medicine experts Dr. Joe Alton and his wonderful wife, Nurse Amy Alton. Be sure to read the article and watch the video to help you level up your medical preparedness.

Mastering Basic Medical Assessment

First off, you’ve got to nail the basics. Learning how to take a history and perform a physical exam is fundamental. Here’s what to focus on:

Vital Signs: Get comfortable measuring pulses, respiration rates, and blood pressure. These basic skills can help you know what’s happening with the sick and injured.

Recognize Abnormalities: Knowing how a person’s body should look and feel is key. Compare both sides of the body to one another to help spot any differences and deformities that might indicate a problem.

Orthopedic and Wound Care Essentials

Next up, let’s talk about injuries. From broken bones to nasty cuts, knowing how to handle these is crucial:

Orthopedic Care: You must know how to splint, pad, and dress injuries to prevent further damage as you move a patient.

Wound Management: Learn various wound closure techniques, such as suturing and using medical glue. Remember, sometimes it’s best to leave a wound open to avoid infection.

Resources for Skill Development

The Altons provide a treasure trove of resources to help you get hands-on experience. These tools are designed to make learning practical and accessible, ensuring you’re ready for anything. You can find the resources on their website,

Video Tutorials and Online Seminars: The Alton’s cover everything from suturing to setting up a sterile field and treating patients. Watching these can help elevate your survival medicine education.

Stocking Up on Medical Supplies

Having the right supplies is just as critical as knowing how to use them. The Altons highlight the importance of being well-prepared with the right medical supplies:

Medical Kits: Their pre-packed kits cater to various needs, whether for fire departments, law enforcement, church security, etc.

Customization: They offer customized kits tailored to specific requirements. For instance, a multi-person kit for a church security team is designed to handle severe bleeding for multiple individuals.

Their store provides many of the medical supplies you might need during a disaster.

Building Community and Bartering

Dr. Joe and Nurse Amy Alton underscore the value of community in survival situations:

Sharing Knowledge and Supplies: They encourage medics to share their expertise and resources freely. This will help others and establish the medic as a vital community asset, thereby solidifying the position of the medic within the community.

Bartering: While trading supplies can be beneficial, they believe in the power of generosity. Freely offering help fosters trust and cooperation with others, which is an essential element for any resilient community.

Practical Tips from the Altons

Listen to Lung Sounds: One critical skill is learning to listen to lung sounds to distinguish between a common cold and more severe conditions like pneumonia.

Set Up a Sterile Field: Establishing a sterile environment is crucial for preventing infections during procedures. That’s important because infections can cause serious problems in a world with limited medications and medical providers.

Prepare for Common Issues: Knowing how to diagnose and treat common problems during a disaster will help you avoid those minor problems from becoming complex.

The Importance of Over-Preparedness

One key takeaway from my conversation with the Altons is the importance of having more medical supplies than you think you’ll need. Disasters are unpredictable, and medical supplies can be consumed rapidly. Being over-prepared means having the capacity to handle extended emergencies and unexpected medical needs. The Altons also suggest that surplus supplies can be used for bartering, adding another layer of security and flexibility to your preparedness strategy.

A uniformed medic providing care.

Embracing the Medic Role in Your Community

By acquiring the necessary skills and stocking up on supplies, you position yourself as a critical resource within your community. Becoming well-versed as a medical provider will go a long way to helping yourself and your loved ones during a disaster. Not only will you know what’s wrong with the sick and injured, but you’ll also be able to do something about it and advocate for the help they need.

Seeking Information on Survival Medicine

If you want to deepen your understanding of survival medicine, starting with reliable resources is crucial. Dr. Joe and Nurse Amy Alton have authored several books and created extensive online content covering various survival medical topics. Here are a few steps to guide your learning journey:

  1. Read Authoritative Books: Start with books like “The Survival Medicine Handbook” by Dr. Joe and Nurse Amy Alton. This comprehensive guide covers everything from basic first aid to advanced medical procedures.
  2. Online Courses and Webinars: Enroll in their online courses and webinars, which are available on their website, These courses offer in-depth knowledge on specific topics like wound care, orthopedic injuries, and setting up a sterile field.
  3. Join a Community: Engage with like-minded individuals through forums and social media groups. Sharing experiences and tips with others can enhance your learning and preparedness.
  4. Practice Regularly: Skills like suturing, splinting, and diagnosing and treating illnesses need practice. Use training kits and follow along with video tutorials provided by the Altons to hone your skills.
  5. Stay Updated: Medical knowledge and best practices evolve. Regularly check the Altons’ blog and YouTube channel for new videos and articles that reflect the latest in survival medicine.

By leveraging these resources, you can build a solid foundation in survival medicine and ensure you’re prepared for any emergency.

The Bottom Line on Essential Medical Skills for SHTF Situations

Preparedness is more than just having the right gear. It’s about equipping yourself with the knowledge and skills to use that gear effectively. Dr. Joe and Nurse Amy Alton provide a wealth of knowledge that, if studied and practiced, will be a lifesaver for you and your loved ones during a disaster. Following their advice can enhance your preparedness and boost your chances of thriving in any disaster scenario.

What are your thoughts on essential medical skills for SHTF situations? Tell us in the comments below.

Additional Resources:


Stay safe,

This is the signature of Brian Duff. The founder of the Mind4Survival prepping and survival website and podcast.

Essential Medical Skills for SHTF Situations

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Brian Duff

Brian's preparedness career began at sixteen and included professional roles as a lifeguard, firefighter, paramedic, Special Operations team leader with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, Diplomatic Protection Specialist, and international security director. He's managed medical clinics in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, provided high-threat diplomatic protection in Iraq and Pakistan, advised a rebel army in Africa, oversaw U.S. embassy security in Baghdad, and directed a premiere tactical medicine training facility. Brian is an expert in Security, Crisis Management, and Preparedness Mindset and hosts the Mind4Survival podcast. He holds a bachelor's degree in Security Management and an MBA in Information Technology Management.

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