One question I often hear is ” Shane The Nurse, where do I get my medical supplies?”.
Well I am here to tell you that getting medical supplies is very easy, for the most part.
There are really only a couple of ways to get medical supplies;
Buy it from a medical supply company
Buy it from a friend in the EMT business
Buy it from a retail store
Buying from a medical supply company is relatively easy if you are a physician, or have an EMT business, clinic, or some other federally recognized endeavor that allows for such purchases. If you do not fall into this category most medical supply companies will not sell to you.
Buying from a friend in the EMT business, or one who owns a clinic will give you access to supplies that are a little harder to come by. For the most part if you have a friend that can help you out in this area you will have the best supplies and the stuff that is just not available in a retail store..
Buying retail. This is the most expensive way to get your supplies, but if you do a little research you can still find some great deals. Another downside is that you will have a hard time finding some specialty items.
Since most will fall into that latter category I will address this area of medical supply procurement.
Wal-mart, Walgreen’s, CVS, and most other pharmacies will have some sort of medical supply area. You can get most basic supplies here and for the most part these are all you will need. Only you can determine what your basic supplies should be based on your type of activities and your percieved future threat assessment. So for bandages, gauze, alcohol, peroxide, antibiotic ointment these are good places to get supplied.
But what if you need a syringes, needles, scalpels, or suturing material? Here is where it gets a little hard right? No, not really. If you have a farm supply store nearby, such as Tractor Supply Company, Dels, UFA, then you will most likely have access to these items. Also a good portion of these stores carry antibiotics and other medications that are not generally available without a prescription if they are for human usage, but for veterinary usage you can buy them over the counter. I get a lot of my supplies at such places. There are some decent online stores but I have never used any of them so I cannot offer a recommendation here. If any of you have had experience with online retailers good or bad please leave a comment.
Another source for antibiotics and some limited medical supplies are the bigger pet store chains such as PetCo, CalVetSupply. I am sure most of you have heard of fishMox, which is Amoxicillin 250mg and Fish Mox Forte which is 500mg of Amoxicillin and they can both be bought over the counter. If you need pennicilin then look for Fish Pen 250mg and Fish Pen Forte 500mg. If you need Ciprofloxacin, aka Cipro, then look for Fish Flox Forte 500mg. Keflex, Cephalexin are available as Fish Flex 250mg and Fish Flex Forte 500mg. Doxycycline is available as Bird Biotic 100mg. Isn’t it amazing how many drugs you can buy if it is for veterinary use. These medications are generally made in the same factory and just go to different bottles. It is the same with buying medications from a pharmacy, not the mail order kind, in Mexico and Canada. One note of caution here, you need to use the appropriate drug in the appropriate dosage for it to be safe and effective. Oh yeah, you better know your allergies with these.
If you are in need of IV solutions you may be able to find them at the aforementioned farm supply stores but most likely you will need to contact somebody from the first two categories, or possibly try one of the online retailers.
If you need regular medications such as Digoxin, Insulin, the Epi-pen, etc which are not generally for veterinary use or available over the counter you will need to talk with your provider. Please do not do the skip every other day to create a stockpile as this is very dangerous. If you can address the underlying issue, IE. morbid obesity then do so now and you may not need a lot of these medications.
In the month or so since Suburban asked me to write this article I really had to think about where I procured a lot of my supplies and I realized that most people do not have access like I do. So I went out and checked out the stores and found that I could build a really good trauma kit, with the exception of IV fluids and IV meds, just by visiting two or three stores in my area of central Arkansas.
Shane The Nurse