USE&E: The Most Important Skills and Gear Might Not Be What You’d Expect
By Terry Trahan
In prepping for an urban survival situation, there is a lot of misinformation. And it is all due to the fact that there are no easy answers. There is also a huge misunderstanding of what happens during these events. It is a popular trope that cities will turn into urban wastelands replete with Mad Max-style gangs rampaging and plundering. Or that the cities will become filled with government death squads, opposing militias battling it out in the streets, and poor huddled masses living in sewers eating rats.
Look at history
As a great eye-opener, I would recommend reading everything you can from Selco on this website. He gives an amazing breakdown of what really happens in a city during a war, ethnic struggle, and the aftermath.
But, barring some horrendous occurrences, it is highly doubtful that this will be the case everywhere in this country. It may come close in some areas, and other areas may not be challenged at all.
One of the measures I use to prepare and check my preps are family stories. My maternal grandmother (Oma), and her family grew up in Germany during the Third Reich. They underwent the wartime depredations, and Oma would tell me stories about that time. My maternal and paternal grandparents from the US also grew up during the Great Depression, and also would share stories and tips from then.
But we don’t even have to go that far back. I have been fortunate enough to communicate with people from Argentina during and after their financial crisis, as well as people from Venezuela, South Africa, and elsewhere undergoing hardships we haven’t been exposed to.
So, as I said in my last article, we have to best prepare for what is most likely to occur to us. In self-protection terms, one of my teachers uses the saying; “Train to handle what happens most, and you’ll be able to handle most of what happens”.
I take this and apply it to my Urban Survival Escape & Evasion (USE&E) training as well.
The most important urban survival issues may not be what you’d expect.
In our first installment we will be looking at what I consider one of the top two issues we need to prepare for, not just for SHTF, but every day.
This may seem shocking, but I will not be addressing fighting or weapons as the most important thing. Not E&E or escape from restraint.
No, we will be addressing first aid, trauma care, the need for training, and a primer on gear to carry and stage to have in a life-threatening situation.
First off, you are more likely to use any first aid/trauma med skills and gear than any other skill you have. And far more than shooting or fighting. In my opinion, the only skill that gets used more is defensive/evasive driving.
Start with training
If you haven’t yet, I would highly recommend you start off with training from the Stop the Bleed program. This is free training usually provided by Emergency Responders/Firefighters in cities large and medium, as well as at hospitals or schools in smaller communities across the country. In these classes, you will be taught the basics of bleeding control using the established protocols of direct pressure, wound packing, and tourniquet use.
This training is gold. It is appropriate for young teens through senior citizens. The presentation is information-rich without being boring.
After taking the StB class, hell, take it a couple of times, I would then look into taking classes from the American Red Cross. They still offer training in a wide array of first aid skills, including basic and advanced first aid, water safety, CPR, AED, and much more.
After you take these classes and practice the skills you learned regularly, you will be a giant asset to any group you are in, and better equipped to help in a wide number of situations and emergencies that may occur.
If, after this basic training, you want to go further, there are several very good training courses for everything from austere long term medical care, trauma care, ditch dentistry, field surgery, and scenario training for care under fire. You can take this as far as you wish, depending on your interests, and what you foresee happening in the particular area you are living in.
Get the appropriate gear for your skillset.
Once you get training, then it is time to look for appropriate gear for your skillset. Kits come in all sorts and sizes, made for different applications.
A word of warning: this is an area where you do not want to cheap out. The number of times we have seen counterfeit TQs (tourniquets) fail in training or testing is frightening. Cheap first aid kits may include expired or inferior components. When dealing with an actual medical situation or life and death, you want your gear to be accessible and to work when needed.
There are three types of kits we need to look at, as they all cover different areas of use. These three types are Boo-Boo kits, First Aid kits, and Trauma kits.
Boo-Boo kits are for treating small wounds, cuts, minor burns, some minor ailments like diarrhea, motion sickness, headaches, blisters, etc… It is to make things more comfortable. These kits should include basic items such as a variety of band-aids, pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, Benadryl, burn gel, nausea relief, sting relief, moleskin, and things like this. As I said, it is more for comfort and treating of minor wounds and owies.
Next up the scale are first aid kits. These can have Boo-Boo items also, but will add on to that with things like rolled gauze, gauze pads, wound dressings, splints, some will include things like cervical collars and other more advanced gear, depending on the intended use of the kit. Some of mine include items that you should only use with proper training, like sutures, forceps, clamps, IV kits and other such things. These items are usually included in field surgery kits but can be useful after proper training.
Now, onto the meat of my daily prep/carry, and gaining in popularity in the gun/sd/prep/EDC crowd, trauma kits. These are small, purpose-driven kits that cover the most common causes of death in a trauma situation. The core of a good trauma kit will be blood loss stopping equipment, which is why I first recommended the Stop the Bleed classes. You will be much better prepared to use these items. First in these kits, we will discuss the TQ (tourniquet).
Please make sure that your tourniquet is a real, not counterfeit TQ, such as a CAT, SOFTT-W, or RMT. Avoid the bungee style wannabe TQs such as the RATs or STAT. They do not achieve good enough occlusion to count on. You only want the best when life depends on your gear.
Next will be compressed gauze of some sort, Kerlix or another variety, for use in wound packing, You want at least 4 yards of gauze, and as a little starter, it is good to tie a knot in the end before you start packing the wound. Some kits include one, or you can buy an individual Israeli Battle dressing or IzzyD, which is a pressure dressing/wrap. It can be used as a secondary TQ also and is a very versatile piece of gear.
Another item frequently included is a blood stopper gauze, the two most popular being QuikClot and Celox. Both are great for dealing with arterial bleeding in junctional areas that cannot be effectively TQd. Do not worry about the reports of exothermic reactions. That was earlier generations of the product, and besides, burns or death is a pretty easy choice for me to make.
The final item that should be in your trauma kit is chest seals to treat tension pneumothorax, or sucking chest wound.
Your mindset is the most important part of survival.
As I said, the first part, the most important part, of this equation is the mindset to survive and prevail, second, training, and then the gear. This ties in with the Tactical Pyramid that we will touch on in future articles. And this is not an exhaustive list of the gear available, it is just a list of the most common, and necessary items for the kits involved.
As always, I welcome any questions or comments and can make better recommendations for training courses and specific gear if you would like.
Thanks for reading.
Terry Trahan has been a long term martial artist and teacher of personal protection, as well as an author for numerous publications. His experiences from being a gang member, enforcer, protection specialist, and bouncer have given his teachings a strong bent towards the practical. Fighting his way out of extreme poverty and some unsavory environs also gives him insight into survival and everyday life not often commented on. He can be contacted at terry.trahan at gmail.com