First Aid Skills


Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before using any of the herbs and/or remedies mentioned in this article. I also have to mention, there are several links on this page, I may receive a small commission if you chose to purchase items through one of them. It will not cost you any extra.

After a major disaster, your survival is going to hinge on your skillset. While having a cache of food, water, and other supplies will certainly be helpful, knowledge is the real necessity. Especially when it comes to first aid. All the medical supplies in the world are useless if you don’t know what to do with them. And believe me, during a widespread disaster, those medical supplies and first aid skills will be crucial.

With all the chaos that comes with disasters–debris, downed power lines, damaged buildings–people are bound to get hurt. And that includes you and your friends and family. Even a small, seemingly innocent injury can become serious if you don’t have access to clean water and medical help.

That’s why learning first aid skills should be a top priority when preparing for a disaster. If you’re not sure which particular skills to learn first, then I suggest working your way through the following list.

1. CPR

This is one of the most important and useful first aid skills you can ever learn. If you learned CPR over 5 years ago, the standard for resuscitation has changed a few times.

The process went to removing the breathing portion and focused on chest compressions in what is known as hands-only CPR. This was developed thinking there is enough oxygen in the blood to provide the body what it needs and increasing circulation.

It has recently turned back to giving breaths but some of the steps in how you determine whether to start or not have been streamlined. A lot of this is due to the more readily available AED’s. This equipment has drastically increased the success rate of CPR. They are expensive but seriously make the chances of restarting the heart much greater.

2. Making a Splint

A splint for a broken or sprained bone or joint will go a long way toward making a person feel better and keeping the injury from getting worse. Immobilizing a broken bone can be accomplished with a couple of sticks and duct tape or a pillowcase or towel.

With the injured limb in a splint, the person will be able to move without causing more pain. Recovery time will be quicker, which is very important in a survival situation. A bone that heals incorrectly will either cause problems later or have to be broken again to allow for it to be set correctly. Just be careful.

3. Cleaning and Dressing a Wound

This can mean the difference between it healing quickly or becoming infected and deadly. How to irrigate a laceration and properly wrap it up will be extremely valuable information. In some cases, a butterfly stitch will need to be used to close a wound. Here’s a step-by-step guide to wound care.

4. The Heimlech Maneuver

Another lifesaving trick you should learn. If someone is choking, you only have seconds to respond. Patting that person on the back isn’t going to help if something is lodged. The quick maneuver is effective and very easy to learn.

Wrapping your arms around the person while standing behind and making several swift jabs upward can help dislodge something that has blocked their airway.

5. Treating Shock

This is going to be very useful, especially after some kind of traumatic event. Anybody is prone to shock, especially those who have been injured. The injury may be treated, but if the shock is ignored, the person will still die.

Learning how to recognize the symptoms and treat a person who is going into shock is extremely valuable information. Keeping a person calm, their feet elevated, and their body warm can help their blood pressure regulate, preventing it from dropping too low.

6. Stopping the Bleeding

Stopping the bleeding and recognizing arterial bleeds is critical. Arterial bleeds can be fatal with the patient dying within a matter of minutes if the bleeding isn’t controlled. The bright red color is one of the most obvious signs.

Learn how to use pressure to stop the bleeding in combination with bandages to keep the person from bleeding out. A tourniquet is a last resort, but in the case of an arterial bleed, it is often the only option.

7. Treating Hypothermia

This is a dangerous condition that occurs often in a survival situation. Cold temperatures, no shelter, and inadequate clothing are common problems after a disaster. Knowing the signs of hypothermia and how to quickly treat it will save lives–maybe your own.

This is a good reason to have a cheap mylar blanket available. There are many more reasons here.

8. Treating Hyperthermia

Also known as heat stroke. High temperatures are just as deadly as freezing temperatures. You need to know what to do when you or someone you are with starts to experience heat exhaustion. At the first sign of a headache, you need to get the person out of the heat.

Pushing fluids, placing a cool, damp cloth on the back of the neck, and staying in the shade can help drop the body temperature quickly. You will only have a short time before the heat exhaustion leads to heatstroke, which can be deadly.

9. Treating Burns

This will likely come in handy in the midst and aftermath of a disaster. A burn can be life-threatening if it isn’t quickly treated. Depending on the severity of the burn, a person will lose several layers of skin that will leave them prone to infection.

You will need to know how to treat 2nd and 3rd degree burns with creams and how to bandage the burn to keep it protected without suffocating the area. Burn care is tricky and requires regular monitoring to make sure there are no signs of infection or skin death.

If you want to learn more about first aid, I highly recommend The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way. It is easily the best first aid guide for beginners.

10. Get Training

If you’ve been putting off taking a CPR class, a first aid course, or wilderness survival training, procrastinate no longer. None of these classes will give you the training of a qualified nurse or doctor, but they can go a long way in helping you keep a clear head and take confident steps to help someone in a medical emergency.

Check out your local community college for course offerings, and here are some other courses you can take in-person and online:

It Could Be The End

These are things that could save a life! I strongly recommend to anyone to look into this more if you have not already!

If not it could truly be the end. I hope you have learned from this and it helps you be ready before you have to be!


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4 Replies to “First Aid Skills”

  1. Hey, Chad. Just wanted to say that I loved the article. It felt like a really great one. And oh, I agree so much with the notion of no amount of tools are going to help if you’ve no idea how to use them. That’s certainly true as far as medical supplies. But I think it pretty much applies to all aspects life. Skillset is everything. And I believe a ton of skillset can also often make up for the lack of the right tools or supplies. 

    Other than that, I was absolutely not aware of the fact that CPR technique standards are a sort of thing that changes. Either way, I definitely agree that it’s a skill that must be number first on anyone’s list to learn. 🙂

    • Hello Matiss,

      I am very glad you liked this article. It is one that I feel everyone should have some training in no matter what their expertise, trade, or profession. I am sort of shocked there is not more training on this in general education.

      I understand the steps in CPR that are taught as a standard have been changed around a bit here and there. My belief is it is a result of the failure rate when CPR is given. It was the same for such a long time and then because of the failure rate, it was decided if a person had become unresponsive there should already be oxygen in the blood so the issue was having enough pressure to get it to the body. They removed giving breaths and focused on compressions. 

      It didn’t improve the success rate. They pretty much went back to the way it had always been. It is known the impulse that triggers the involuntary reflex of a beating heart is an “electrical signal” and the most effective way to bring a heart back into rhythm was with an Automated Electronic Defribulator. 

      If you have to perform CPR at any time, an AED is the best chance for anyone who needs it. Having the skills, being able to determine when they are needed, and the goodwill to help by using them is the key! First Aid is the immediate care given to a victim until professional help arrives. 

      Even if the CPR is unsuccessful, you did not fail if you try to resuscitate. The best way to be ready before you have to be is to get the training!

      I hope this all helps!


  2. Hello,

    I loved this read and it gave me a lot of insight on how to be resourceful in first aid. I was actually a medical first responder and my university and have hands-on experience with responding to first aid scenarios. 

    I was wondering if we can get a read on more mental illness first air responding and how to approach first aid scenarios where someone is either impaired or has special needs. 

    Thank you in advance,


    • Hello Karan,

      I am glad you enjoyed the article. It sounds like you have some experience in this area and I am grateful you have stopped in. 

      My hopes in this article are to help the ones who have yet to gain this experience and skill so they could be prepared. You have shared a specific concern for some of those out there that you could come across even in a non-survival situation. 

      There are those out there that have different challenges, whether it is physical or mental. My heart goes out to those who help and support these folks and I would be glad to help understand how they can specifically be ready before they have to be. It does take a bit more planning to be prepared for these situations because of different supply needs but it is possible. 

      With first aid/CPR, it is usually administered by a less qualified person than a medical professional. even though there could be obstacles when presented with someone with certain challenges, the preservation of life by getting oxygen to the body is the same. In an emergency, anyone’s chances of survival is increased if you give them immediate care until the professionals arrive.

      If it is a survival situation and professionals are not coming, I hope you are prepared! I have a lot on my plate and several articles in the works but I have noted to present some information on how anyone can be more prepared to help if someone has different challenges in the future. 

      Thanks for joining in!


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