EMP. What could happen. What WILL Happen?

EMP. What could happen What will happen.
The Title image is Honolulu when Starfish Prime detonated/  

The talk for the last couple of years is EMP. North Korea. Iran. Pakistan. It doesn’t matter. Its a real possibility. This newsletter newsletter is going to be different than the rest I have done. Instead of tips tricks and ideas. This will be a story. This is a what If type of story. But it will be based on what has happened in different major disasters and wars. So first. What is an EMP? The initial stand for Electro Magnetic Pulse.

It is a huge amount of energy released in short amount of time. Much faster and stronger than a lightning bolt. We have seen the EMP effect first hand. 1945 Alamogordo NM. When the first nuke detonated by man was set off in the NM desert. There were minor power outages in Alamogordo, Las Cruces, Socorro. Nothing major. Why? It was a ground burst. The horizon blocked wide spread damage.

What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Most of the the electronics that would have been affected by low altitude nuclear devices would have been destroyed by the explosion itself. In the early 1960, The Soviet Union and conducted EMP test. They monitored about 600 km of phone line. The tests were “only” 100 to 300 kt weapons. It fused the entire phone system destroyed and a major power power plant. In 1962 The US detonated Starfish Prime. A 1.4 megaton device about 250 miles up. Its EMP far surpassed the wildest guesses by scientists. It blew out telephone lines, streetlights power junctions and a telephone microwave repeater 900 miles away in Hawaii. This was 1950s and 60s era electronics.

Fast forward to 2018. Our lives run by computers. Our cars and our homes are controlled by computers. Our food system is controlled by computers. Transportation. Utilities. Medicine. Information is controlled computers. As the devices progressed in complexity the EMP resistance decreased with the addition of the computerized electronics .

I wrote an article a few months ago on peacemakers and EMP. The question asked was, “Would an EMP damage my pacemaker?” The short answer is probably not. There are so many variables it is a difficult. The modern MRI compatible cans are very well shielded. Pacemakers, EMP and short fat boys with bad haircuts

The military has ” hardened ” electronics Well it has a lot. Ok it has some. What? Budgets man. The budgets for hardened war equipment gets derailed by 1200 coffee cups.

But back to our story. Say Outer Ashkanistan or Bumfreakastan turns up a couple of Soviet era nukes. Yes the are a lot and not all are accounted for. And they find some old SCUD missiles. Grab a freighter and anchor offshore and a 3rd comes up a from the Gulf of Mexico. They fire at a steep angle and get about 80 to 100 miles of altitude they could destroy the US electrical systems. Or fire 3 from the Gulf of Mexico and put one over Salt Lake, One of Kansas and one over Ohio. Same result.

So what happens? Right away everything electric stops working. Cell phones that $3000 Samsung refrigerator that sends a note to Kroger to have you stop pick up eggs. A good portion of cars will stop. In their tracks. The new 787s and Airbuses that are in the air over the US nose dive into the ground. Your ham radios, CB radios and FRS/GMRS radios are dead.

No communication outside of yelling distance exists. Blood glucose meters stop working. Insulin pumps stop working. 98% of all medical equipment is now paperweights . Get the picture? That $200 Streamlight quits working. The majority of electronic optics on firearms quits working. Water pumps. Sewage pumps. Natural gas compressor stations. It all quits. Period. Nothing that has integrated circuits or microprocessors will work. Some of us have some electronics in Faraday boxes. But the other 330 million Americans do not. All this has happened in the first few MILLISECONDS after an EMP. Think it is bad now? Wait it will get much worse.

5 minutes after an EMP

the first deaths that were not caused by car or airplane crashes, happen. It happens in hospitals. Patients on ventilators suffocate. There are not enough people to bag every intubated patient. What about the hospital backup up generators? Microprocessor controlled. They can not start nor will they ever start short of replacement of their computer brains. Any patient that is on life support on non hardened equipment is dead.

1 day post EMP.

Type 1 diabetics are feeling like hell. No glucose meter no way to tell how much insulin to give. Not every diabetic knows what to look for. I’ve asked random diabetics where I work. How do you feel when your sugar is at 60mg/dl. Or at 200mg/dl. Most do not know. They know to check their sugar every X hours and give the amount of inuslin needed for xxxmg/dl. They do not take the time to learn how their body is at different states. And know how much insulin to give.

2 days post EMP.

There are now sudden outbreaks of Salmonella . Electricity has been off for 2 days. Food has been at room temperature for at least 30 hours. Microbes are feasting on all that food. Communities have set up shelters in schools. People are crowded together. Running water is about gone. Unless they are below the water supply and perhaps gravity is helping. Sanitation is an slight after thought. As people eat tainted food to keep strength up.

The American immune System is failing us. What? You heard me. Our Immune system is failing us. For the majority of us our immune system is a disaster. A friend of mine once referred to Americans as the equivalent of expensive orchids. We do do great if everything is sanitized and controlled. But once the environmental controls are gone we wither and day like an expensive exotic flower left out in the cold. Now not all of us. But a good portion of our society may die in that first week after an EMP attack. No not from food borne illnesses. Thats is later this week. They will die from being stupid. Trying to do things they have never done to stay alive. Cutting wood. Digging a latrine. Any number of mundane tasks people take for granted can turn deadly in an instant.

Day 3 and Day 4 post EMP

.People in nursing homes are in a bad way. Death has visited and left his mark. Decomposition is advancing and those those that are left have been forgotten. What? What about the staff. I’ll be honest. Most have left home to care for their families.

Those that are left are overwhelmed. People who brave the decay try to rescue family members. A slight scratch . In normal times would be ignored. Now it is a death sentence. Unless treated quickly and correctly. People are getting desperate. Wait what do you ask? Katrina? And the Superdome. It lasted longer than a week. People didn’t die in droves like I am talking about. What’s the difference?


People KNEW it would end. They had communication with the outside world. Supplies were being flown in. Motor vehicles still worked. The major infrastructure of the US was still in place. When a major EMP goes off all that infrastructure is still there. The dead husk of it. There is no communication with anyone. Unless some ham has a tube based radio or had some protected and put away.

People are getting desperate. Your wife is sick. Your kids are hungry. Your husband is hurt. You are thirsty. Its getting cold. What would do for your family in SHTF? Come on now be honest. Fights break out people are hurt or die. Back at the high school gym, our old friend salmonella is making its rounds. Also other bugs are making a guest appearance. With people getting sick they are getting dehydrated. The water supply is slowing down. The towns storage tanks are not being refilled. Gravity is letting us down. Basic sanitation is being pushed aside due to lack of water.

Your diabetic friend is starting to smell like a fresh pack of Juicy Fruit gum. Since his glucose meter doesn’t work and he figured out something bad is happening 2 days ago he started rationing his insulin . But there is no refrigeration and the insulin is going bad.

Day 5. Post EMP

The interstate highway outside of town. People are on it. Trying to find food water and shelter. They are heading out of the cities. Moving out to the country. Because people in the country always have extra food and water. We can just take it they say. More people die. Since there have been a lot of people dying did anyone think about what to do with the bodies? Can’t leave them where they lie. A health disaster would turn into a health apocalypse. Bury them? Burn them? No power equipment. And do we want or can we afford to waste the gas or diesel on burning them?

Day 6. Post EMP

Your sweet smelling friend has died. That scratch you got in the nursing home helping out? Its infected. Your arm, over night has swollen twice the size of the other. Red streaks run up and down it. You have a fever of 104.9 degrees.

Thank goodness someone knew what to do and those antibiotics in the fish store saved the day.

By day 30 our Type 1 diabetics will start to die. Those that had insulin and were able to keep it cool. Our population that have heart arrhythmia’s that take anti arrhythmic drugs will start to notice more and more irregular heart beats. Those with Ventricular Tachycardia may see more and more short runs of it. They will eventually die from cardiac arrest. 

Asthmatics will start running out of their inhalers and respiratory distress will become more common. The salmonella outbreak earlier will have run its course. Figure on about a 10% mortality. With people already week and dehydrated salmonella is deadly

Dialysis patients have about died out. The exception is the peritoneal dialysis patients. They can last longer. Longer still if they can make the solutions needed. We have not even talked about the mental health of our community.

Day 45. Post EMP

About all of the type 1 diabetics have passed on. As have the majority of people that take life sustaining medications. Our old friends typhus, typhoid and cholera are back. Malnutrition is starting to take people now. Did anyone happen to think about their dogs and cats?

I could keep going. But it gets even more depressing. Do I really think this would happen over an EMP event?

I do.

I haven’t even got to the effects of vitamin deficiency. The people with uncontrolled mental health issues. The thousands that will die because hope is gone and they take their own lives. We watch movies of zombie apocalypse. Massive asteroids hitting the planet. A viral Pandemic that spreads a super flu. Invasion. War. An EMP trumps all. In the span it takes to blink an eye 90% of everything electronic is gone. Coffee pots to cars. Everything we use to live with is gone. And the story I told could really happen

If America gets hit by an EMP we are done as a country. The government will be shut down. The military will not have the fighting capability it did an hour before. Not do to its equipment destroyed. It still has to move. The rail and road systems will be a disaster. How many of my readers have 1 year of food per person put by? I sure as hell don’. When we moved it devastated our preps. And I am worried.

Preps are needed. But also you need to know what to do with them. You need to know what to do when the electricity goes off and your little girls insulin is spoiling. You need to know what to do with that little scratch you got in the dying nursing home BEFORE you almost die of Septicemia. In February of 2017. I was ready to quit the Medic Shack. Why? Because people that took classes from me before said they didn’t need em anymore more. The president we have now made them obsolete.


It may not be an EMP. It may be one of a hundred different things that takes us from 21st century computer age consumers. To refugees in our own country. There is one thing that can make the difference in you or your family living or dying.


The get out and learn how to correctly and safely cut wood. To learn how to find and make the antibiotics that will save your or your loved ones life when they brush against that piece of rusty tin. How to find medicine, food. Make shelter. Defend your health family. Some my snicker on someone offering a class on how to cut wood. Most of my readers know it. But how many that live in Boston. Or Seattle or Baltimore, know how to safely use a chainsaw. How to drop limb, block a tree. With an axe? I would LOVE to have each and everyone of you take classes from me. ask that you take classes from someone who knows what they are doing.

This little piece is a work of fiction. Straight out of my mind and a lot of different books and training manuals and Army classes. It is in a way an ad for people to take classes. Not only from me. But also from other instructors around the country. It’s primary job is to have you. The subscriber to the Medic Shack, stop and think about what you will do when the lights go off. Is the story I just told the written truth of what will happen? I don’t know. It could be a lot better.

Or it could be a lot worse. So don’t just sit there on your butt playing 1st person shooter games and posting on survival facebook pages on how good you are. Get out and practice. Get out and learn. Make a fire in the backyard in the rain. By a roast cut it up and make jerky. Make a water filter. TAKE A CLASS! There is so much to remember and learn how to do. Don’t be a consumer. Be a producer.


It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.” GENERAL EUGENE HABIGER, USAF (RET.) FORMER COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND MAY 2002

  1. Arthur

    If contaminated water soaks into the aquifer, say Florida for example, how far must the water travel through the soil to lose its contamination?, to become drinkable? I realize this is a seriously loaded question. First you’d need to know the type of contaminate, the distance water must percolate down through the soil to reach the aquifer, etc, etc. As an example, I live in the mountains. During a drought, a well man told me rainfall today would take 8 months to percolate through the rock structure to reach the bottom a 600 foot well. I also realize radiation, losses its potency via by time, half lives. I hope this is not a rhetorical question. I’d appreciate any guesstimate.

    1. chuck

      May take me a bit but I’ll find the information that you’re wanting. One thing off the top of my head. An EMP would have zero fallout. It is exploded above the atmosphere. Fallout is the dirt and debris sucked up by the blast, irradiated by the fireball and then dropped back to earth. A ground or an air burst would have an EMP effect. But it would be local to the visable horizon. Radiation like radio waves are pretty much line of sight.

  2. Rebecca Mayer

    Left nursing to take care of my special needs child(ren) 18 years ago but have ALWAYS kept my training current, not out of fear of the unknown, but out of the confidence that I AM their parent! It is and has always been MY RESPONSIBILITY to teach them how to be the best, most productive person they can be in all situations.

    Because we are an active duty family, we have had the ability to learn and perfect different skills in different environments. The constant moves do take a toll on preps but by doing so, it forces one into motivation and higher skill set.

    Press Forward & Onward. The battle is not over until you draw your last breath.

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