Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: The Survival Medicine Handbook

NOTE: In June 2016, a Revised and Expanded Third Edition was released. Links in this article have been redirected to the Thrid Edition so that you might obtain the best and most current edition of this book.

Original Review (September 2014) featured Book of the Month for September is The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph Alton, M.D, and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P. I own this book, and consider it one of the few truly "must have" books in my survival library.  

The Survival Medicine Handbook is a massive 554-page tome subtitled "A guide for when medical help us NOT on the way." I highly recommend this book, and consider it the second medical book you must have after a good general first aid handbook (and take a first aid/CPR course while you are at it). The book is now in its second edition (click on the image to the left to go to the page for the book).

In addition to the introductory material, the book is broken down into several sections. 

Section 1 is on the principles of medical preparedness, and explains such concepts as the right attitude, what is medical preparedness, integrated medicine, and the difference between  wilderness medicine and long-term survival medicine. 

Section 2 is on becoming a medical resource. It looks at the survival medic, the status assessment, likely issues you may face, medical skills and supplies you will want to acquire, and even information on growing a medical garden.

Section 3 is on hygiene and sanitation (which both can be problematic during a disaster or grid-down scenario). It also includes information on dealing with lice, ticks, and worms, sewage issues, dehydration, and food poisoning, among other issues.

Section 4 is on dealing with infections, including abscesses, tetanus, hepatitis, appendicitis, and urinary tract infections. Section 5 deals with environmental factors, including heat stroke, hypothermia, allergic reactions, poison oak, ivy, and sumac, radiation sickness, and biological warfare.

Section 6 is on dealing with injuries, such as minor and major wounds, wound closure, blisters, splinters, and fishhooks, burn injuries, animal and snake bites, insect bites and stings, head injuries, sprains, dislocations, and fractures. 

Section 7 discusses chronic medical problems such as thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, kidney stones, and even varicose veins, among other conditions.  Section 8 covers a myriad of other medical issues, including CPR, headaches, eye care, hemorrhoids, and anxiety and depression. Also covered in this section are issues of birth control and pregnancy. 

Section 9 covers medications. In it, the Alton's discuss essential over-the-counter drugs, what and how to stockpile drugs, pain medications, natural pain relief, and how to use antibiotics. There is also a discussion of expiration dates. 

The book closes with a section of references (both print and video) and a glossary of medical terminology. It does have a very useful 16-page index. There are a number of black-and-white photos and illustrations throughout the book. 

What I like about The Survival Medicine Handbook is that it is well thought-out, quite extensive, covering almost every survival medicine topic imaginable, and very detailed. Yet, it is still accessible by the general reader with little of no medical background (like myself).  

About the AuthorsJoseph Alton is a medical doctor, obstetrician, and pelvic surgeon, who has taught medicine at the University level. Now retired, he devotes his time to the topic of survival medicine. Amy Alton is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner with a Master's degree in Nursing, and a Certified Nurse-Midwife. She also has a strong interest in gardening and medical herbs. Together, they are the husband and wife team behind the Doom and Bloom survival medicine website, and podcast. They also have an information-packed You Tube channel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pocket Dump - My EDC

I thought some folks might be interested in what I carry on me everyday, so that I can hopefully "be prepared" for whatever life throws at me.

First, let's start with what I wear: my clothes on a typical day are cargo pants, a plain short-sleeve shirt in summer or plain sweatshirt during winter, and a pair of hiking shoes. If needed, I will wear a plain hoodie or heavier coat. The ideas behind the way I dress are: 1) comfortable, ease-of-movement; 2) rugged; 3) practical, utilitarian; 3) not flashy or eye-catching; 4) not likely to attract attention by appearing as if I have money, or appearing as if a bum; and 5) fits in fairly well with what locals are likely to wear.

Now, for the pocket dump:

Click to enlarge

On my belt, I always wear my Leatherman Fuse Multi-Tool. Basically, if I'm wearing pants, I have it on me. I bought it years ago for about $40. I've thought about upgrading to the Leatherman Charge TTi, but the expense has stopped me so far.

On my left wrist, I wear a cheap ($10) watch I got at Walmart. I've had it for more than a year, and it keeps surprisingly good time. I have more expensive watches, which I might wear on very special occasions, but typically prefer the cheap watch that won't attract attention, and if it gets busted, who cares - its only $10. 

In my right front pocket, I carry my Maxpedition Urban Wallet, and several quarters. I front-carry my wallet because it is much more difficult for a pick-pocket to steal from a front pocket than a rear pocket. I often, but not always, carry my Cold Steel Voyager XL Vaquero folder for self-defense (click here to read my review of it). 

In my left front pocket, I carry my Swiss Army Knife, "Hiker" model.  I also carry my keys in this pocket. On my key chain, I have my keys, a Gorilla Drive flash drive (I encrypt my files on it with Rohos encryption software), a Gerber Shard mini pry bar (with screwdrivers and bottle opener), a very loud whistle (don't remember what brand), and an Energizer key chain flashlight. 

In my right cargo pocket, I carry my cell phone (not pictured), my personalized organizational system (some index cards held together with a binder clip), and a pen. 

In my left cargo pocket, I carry an Energizer LED pocket flashlight (58-lumens), and a Maxpedition micro pocket organizer (I'll cover the contents below). I love the flashlight because it gives off good light while still being the perfect size to carry everyday in my pocket. 

Click to enlarge.
The Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizier

I use the pocket organizer primarily as a personal first aid kit, with a couple of other items , too. On the outside pocket, I carry a couple of individually wrapped Wet Ones, useful for cleaning hands before eating, but can also be used to clean other things. The first aid supplies include wound care items (alcohol wipes, iodine wipes, a couple of packets of triple antibiotic ointment, several sizes and styles of bandages, and a small pack of quick clout), tweezers (for removing bee stingers, ticks, splinters), insect sting relief, benedryl caplets, asprin, advil, aleve, and  a couple of packets of electrolytes to add to water.

Also in the kit is an emergency twenty-dollar bill, a small roll of duct tape, a couple of six inch strips of orange duct tape, a Eat-N-Tool by CRKT, a pair of fingernail clippers, a brass 3-inch safety pin, and a Leatherman Style CS Multi-tool (a great pair of folding scissors).

Yes. Everything pictured fits easily into the organizer, with a little room to spare.

Items Not Pictured  

My sunglasses are with me constantly. I also wear a Celtic Cross on a chain around my neck.

I am planning on making a number of changes to this set-up in the coming weeks, and will do another pocket dump after I've settled on my new EDC for a few weeks. I want to test out the new set-up first. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Knight's Code

Scouting founder, Robert Baden-Powell, based the Scout Motto and and Scout Law on The Knight's Code. The Knight's Code, as published in the Boy Scout Handbook:

The Knight's Code

"BE ALWAYS READY with your armor on, except when you are taking your rest at night.
Defend the poor, and help them that cannot defend themselves. 
Do nothing to hurt or offend anyone else.
Be prepared to fight in the defense of your country.
At whatever you are working, try to win honor and a name for honesty. 
Never break your promise.
Maintain the honor of your country with your life.
Rather die honest than live shamelessly.
                   Chivalry requireth that youth should be trained to perform the most laborious and humble offices with cheerfulness and grace, and to do good onto others. 

Why I don't talk specifics about guns...

Those who know me through this website, elsewhere on the Internet, or in person, know that I am very pro-gun and pro-second amendment.  I believe that gun-ownership is not just a right, but a duty. Self-defense, and the defense of those who cannot defend themselves, is a moral imperative. One should not be quick to fight - it is never the first option - but one should always stand ready, and willing, to fight when circumstances force the issue.

Despite this strongly held opinion, I don't publicly talk much about guns beyond statements of general support for the second amendment, and encouragement to include guns, and training, in your preps. I certainly don't talk specifics, give recommendations, or reveal details of what guns I may own, or how I may use them. That is an intentional decision on my part for a couple of reasons.

First, we have an unfortunate situation in America right now where gun laws vary greatly from state to state, and even from locality to locality within the same state. What I say might be true for where I live, but be unlawful where someone else lives. In our highly litigious society, I don't want to get sued because someone acted on something I said that happened to not be true for where they live.

Second, it is an aspect of operational security to keep such details under wraps. I don't want any nosy neighbors or local criminals stumbling onto my Twitter account or website, and finding out details of what I have, where I keep them, when/how I carry, etc. I also don't want to provide government officials any details beyond what is required under the law.

Luckily, there are some really good websites and You Tube channels that do go into details about guns. And I highly recommend folks talk to their local gun stores. They will be able to help you understand the legalities in your area, as well as direct you to nearby training courses. They will also be able to make recommendations based on your personal circumstances.

And, always, I suggest you join a gun rights group (there are several listed on the Liberty Links page), include guns in your prepping, and take a good self-defense firearms training course.

May God bless these United States of America.

Tim Gamble