Your survival surgical kit should fall into two distinct sections. The first is the immediate first aid items that you take with you on a daily basis. This will allow you to stop serious bleeding, cut away infected skin and flesh and clean out deep wounds. This kit should have enough in it to get your patient back to your base camp. The second part of your surgical preparations should carry the more sophisticated items that you’ll need for more in-depth surgery.
When you’re putting together your surgical kit for your base camp, you
should prepare under the assumption that your surgical first aid kit
will carry a lot of the scalpels, hemostats and forceps that you will
need to perform the actual surgery. Your base surgical kit therefore
needs to carry the equipment that will allow you to perform the surgery
as quickly, neatly and cleanly as possible:
- Surgical masks – one of the biggest killers in field surgery is infection and in a survival situation there may be many airborne bacteria in your airways. You could easily infect the wound that you’re trying to clean and trap bacteria as it tries to heal. Surgical masks are an absolute necessity for any major surgery as they will filter around 95% of all bacteria leaving your mouth. You will have to dispose of them after use, preferably through burning for the safest results.
- Latex gloves – again these help to fight infection as it may be hard in a survival situation to keep your hands entirely clean. This would rely on purely sterilized water for absolute cleanliness and this may be in extremely short supply. Latex gloves are a simple way to create a sterile environment as well as protecting yourself from any blood borne bacteria. If any rip or get holes in during your surgery, discard them immediately and replace them.
- Sterilizing fluid – keeping your instruments clean will be essential and just wiping them down in between uses leaves them open to infection. In a survival scenario caused by a nuclear strike, there is a real danger of radiation sickness caused by particles that attach themselves to your tools. You’ll need safe and secure containers that can hold enough sterilizing fluid to completely cover the tools, not just the blades.
In a survival situation, money may have lost its value and you will find yourselves living in a barter economy. If you have a specific skill or set of tools, you’ll find it a lot easier to get hold of essentials such as food, fuel and water. To put you at the forefront medically, you may want to invest in the following for your surgical kit:
- Headlamps – these will allow you to operate at any time of day or night. The focused light from your forehead will also mean that you can see exactly what you’re working on. A good brand is Medical For You who sells an LED headlamp for around $50 that runs on AAA batteries.
- Stapler – you’ll want a surgical stapler for times when suturing or sewing just isn’t feasible. The staples will suffice to hold skin and blood vessels together while you work on other aspects of the surgery. Oasis sells a surgical stapler for $12 that comes with 35 pre-loaded staples.
- Suction pump – novice surgeons are always surprised at how much blood is lost during surgery. A suction pump will remove blood allowing you to see what you’re doing as well as removing any dirt from the wound. They’re not cheap, and DeVilbiss have a good range starting at $330.
How much effort you put into your surgical kit will depend on your budget and how likely you think you are to need it. You should definitely have the basic tools and sterilizing equipment while the larger items are a bonus if you have the money and the storage space.
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