Thursday, November 3, 2011

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 202: Bloodletting

WARNING!!! Spoilers below!

When we last left the survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse, the group was split apart; T-Dog and Dale are on the highway gathering supplies, and the the rest of the group is in the woods searching for Sophie.   Rick, Shane and Carl found a deer in the woods, and just as Carl approached, an unseen hunter's bullet passed through the deer and hit Carl in the abdomen.

Man down:  Rick races with Carl while Shane and Otis follow.
Cut to Episode 202, "Bloodletting," which opens with Rick racing across a field toward a farmhouse occupied by Hershel Greene, the survivors of his family, and Otis, the caretaker who shot Carl by accident.   Hershel is an old country doc - a veterinarian, to be exact - but he's the closest thing to a doctor in these parts that isn't slouching and moaning.

This scene makes a good case for investing in a good portable personal first aid kit. Rick and Shane had no way to stop Carl's bleeding, and the blood loss almost killed him.  It almost killed Rick as well since Hershel was transfusing blood from Rick to keep Carl's blood pressure stable. Don't buy some pre-packaged kit from a store; most of those are overpriced.  The Preparedness Podcast has a really good episode (Number 15) on first aid kits that will give you some ideas.

By the way, if you have a spouse and family, or other relatives that might shelter with you during an emergency, do you know their blood type?   My wife and I watched this episode and realized we have no idea what our son's blood type might be.   I have mine on a card the Red Cross gave me at the house, and I had to find it to confirm my memory.   My wife's is O Negative; she's what is called a universal donor and in high demand because everyone can take her blood without a reaction.  We know this because the Red Cross robo-calls her five times for every bloodmobile.  (Note to the Red Cross:  she gives two-three times a year already; give it a rest).

Another medical emergency presents itself when Dale discovers T-Dog's arm is heavily infected from the cut he received, and the group has no antibiotics despite searching the surrounding cars on the freeway.   It might also be a VERY good idea to keep a pocket drug reference of some sort to identify pills of different types in case you have to salvage medical supplies in an emergency situation.   Johns Hopkins offers apps of guides for a price on Itunes.  Always have a paper backup to something like this, because technology will fail.  A copy of the Physcian's Desk Reference is a possible solution.

Here is a recurring preparedness principle of the new season.  Gear and guns are nice, but the knowledge of how to use it is vital.  Conversely, you can have all the knowledge in the world, but without the right gear you may not be able to use it.  The survivors have run into this time and again.  Andrea has a gun but has no idea how to use it and maintain it.  Doc Hershel has the knowledge to save Carl but has none of the equipment.  T-Dog desperately needs antibiotics to save his arm.

Let's break this down and localize it to out own preparedness situations and deal with the gear. Josh Robbes at the Got Prep Project advocates using the PACE method of planning, and I have begun putting this into practice.   PACE is an acronym that stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.  Let's use the survivors' need for medical supplies to apply PACE planning to preparedness:

Primary: this is the main or intended method of execution of the mission or, in our instance, the source for medical supplies.  Normally this would be a pharmacy, medical supply house, etc.

Emergency action: Shane and Otis approach the shelter.
Alternate:  another source of medical supplies that would have little or no other impact.  This might mean another pharmacy, an online supply house instead of the one in town, etc.

Contingency:  a source for gaining medical supplies, and will not be as easy and may be labor intensive - scavenging medical supplies from abandoned cars or hospitals, looting homes, etc.

Emergency:  an emergency method of accomplishing a task or getting supplies that is significantly labor intensive, and takes considerably longer than all other means. 

In the episode, Shane and Otis volunteer to head to an abandoned FEMA shelter to retrieve the supplies needed to save Carl.  Otis remarks that the local hospital burned down a month ago.   So, with all primary, alternate, and contingency methods exhausted, the duo engage in an emergency supply run to get surgical supplies.  T-Dog gets help in the form of an alternate source of anitbiotics -- Merle's stash of anti-clap meds.

Secondly, group dynamics rears its head again.   The group is torn between searching for Sophie, getting to the farm, and moving on.   It's a huge statement about the morale of the group when Daryl and Shane, the two most volatile members, are holding things together.  While Rick is the group's leader, his inability to lead during his son's crisis has forced others to stand up and be counted.  When it comes to survival, you have to have a leader for a group.  It cannot be leadership by committee, but just remember, every military unit has an executive officer that makes sure things get done even if the commanding officer is incapacitated.

For those of you watching the show and thinking you can survive a long-term disaster by yourself as a lone wolf, I'd reconsider.  You cannot be a lone wolf in a long-term survival situation like this.  There's too much to do, and not enough time and energy in one person's day to do it.  There has to be a group or community working together.  Group survival is like a sausage and peppers platter at the county fair; you know you have to have it, but you're going to have to deal with the heartburn later.

Third, never let down your guard in a survival situation.  Andrea loses her focus in the woods and is rewarded with an attack by a Walker at close range.  With no firearm -- Dale confiscated it -- she almost ended up as Walker chow.  A survival situation is physically and mentally taxing. 

The episode ends with Shane and Otis having obtained the supplies, but cornered in the high school/FEMA shelter building by a mass of undead.  I could argue that Shane should have saved some flares to use for a distraction to get out, but how was he going to throw them out of the trailer?   Will they survive?

Preparedness lessons for Episode 202:
  • Practice the PACE method of planning
  • Research and stock medical supplies; check the Preparedness Podcast for information
  • Get trained in first aid techniques
  • Realize long-term survival is a group activity; plan accordingly and seek like-minded individuals
  • Every group needs a leader, but others need to do their part

1 comment:

  1. This is very well illustrated in connection with "The Walking Dead" series. I would recommend that everyone read this and prepare.