The right equipment is important for anyone to do a job efficiently. You wouldn’t expect a steak knife to cut a tree down better than a saw, or see a hunter have the same success with a catapult as opposed to a rifle. The same goes for the containers you put supplies in, especially one you have to carry with you while bugging out or away from your retreat. The right medical backpack allows you to work effectively as a medic, while giving you the ability to have plenty of materials and minimizing back problems. Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy discuss what goes into choosing a good medical backpack.
Picking the right medic bag
Plus, some basics of wound cleaning off the grid. In normal times, you can pass off a person with a wound to a hospital, but after a disaster, it’s your responsibility to see the wound to full recovery. That means diligent and strict attention to wound cleaning. We talk about some strategies for wound care off the grid that will decrease the risk of wound infections and increase the chances for survival.
All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton!
Things To Consider When Choosing a Medical Backpack
Stomp Supreme bag by Doom and Bloom
For anyone to do their job properly, they’ll need the right equipment. Imagine a carpenter having to use a steak knife as a saw, or a hunter using a catapult instead of a rifle. The same goes for the medic. The successful survival caregiver has spent a lot of time and energy (and some money) on accumulating a stockpile of medical supplies. The more the better, since you don’t know how long you might have to function without access to modern medical care.
It’s important to note that the value of many medical supplies depends largely on the knowledge and skill that the user has obtained through study and practice. A blood pressure cuff isn’t very useful to someone who doesn’t know how to take a blood pressure. Concentrate first on obtaining items that you can use effectively, and then purchase more advanced equipment as you learn more skills.
Don’t forget that many items can be improvised; a bandanna can serve as a sling, an ironing board as a stretcher, or thin fishing line and a sewing needle as suturing equipment. A careful inspection of your own home would probably turn up lots of items that can be adapted to medical use. Look with a creative eye and you’ll be surprised at the medical issues you are already equipped to deal with.
The Medic Bag
Items should be clearly visible and accessible
If you are going to be the medical caregiver for your family or community in times of trouble, you will, hopefully, have accumulated a significant number of medical supplies. You’ll find many articles that tell you what to put in a medical kit, but few ever talk about a basic piece of medical equipment that everyone needs: the medical bag that will contain all these supplies.
Without a place to put your medical supplies, they will, most likely, be strewn about in a way that prevents you from accessing the stuff you need when an emergency arises. This wastes precious time when someone’s life may hang in the balance. Organization is key; if you’re disorganized, you’re not going to be effective at the time you’re most needed.
Choosing the Right Medic Bag
One important aspect of choosing a bag that fits your needs is size. Size matters; you should assess your needs to determine which size bag is right for you. The factors that go into this decision include:
Are you staying in place or on the move?
How many people are you responsible for?
How long will you be the medical resource for your family or group?
Are you in an area that is potentially dangerous?
What climate should you be prepared for?
What medical issues will you be most likely to encounter?
Can you depend on clean water?
How many medical supplies do you have?
Larger bags are made more versatile if they are M.O.L.L.E. compatible. M.O.L.L.E. is a military acronym; it stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. These bags have what look like horizontal straps sown on the outside of a pack which allow additional items to be secured by attaching them to the loops that are created by the stitching or webbing.
Which medical supplies should every member of your family carry in case you get separated? What are the more advanced supplies that the medic should carry? You might start by having members of your group carry an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) whenever they’re away from base camp. The family medic carries the advanced items in a larger bag.
IFAK bag and supplies
The best medic bags, in my opinion, have lots of clear or mesh pockets. These have everything you’ll need in an emergency in plain sight if packed right, and will avoid the question you never want to ask yourself if someone’s injured: “Where’d I put the tourniquet?”, or “Where’d I put the burn dressings?” Closed pouches in the bag could be used for non-emergency items, like certain medicines, water filters, etc. Putting your items in groups based on the issues they deal with is also a great idea.
Avoiding Backpack-Related Injuries
The American Occupational Therapy Association has some general tips on preventing backpack mishaps like back injuries. They target students, but their advice makes sense for the survival medic as well. They include:
Choose a backpack with a padded back panel and adjustable padded shoulder straps. Chest straps will also help stabilize the pack.
Always distribute weight evenly in your pack.
Load heaviest items closest to your back; balance materials so that you can easily stand up straight.
For large packs, a hip belt is important. It provides balanced support and takes strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.
Whether the bag is short or tall, has an internal frame or is soft are important factors to determine comfort and utility.
The key is to have the medical kit make sense for you. Many medical kits, like you can find at our website, come already packed with supplies. This might mean deconstructing it and moving things around so that the arrangement seems natural for your purposes.
A medical bag doesn’t have to be commercially produced; if you’re staying in place, a tool box or other item that sets up your supplies in an organized way is all that is needed.
Choosing the right bag for the right job is as important as having the right medical items. Do a little research to see what your options are; you’ll be glad you did.
Joe Alton MD
That ol’ Dr. Bones
See a wide selection of bags, packed kits, and individual supplies at Nurse Amy’s shop at store.doomandbloom.net.
What if you had to function with joint pain in the aftermath of a major disaster? In the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD, aka Dr. Bones, and Amy Alton ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, our hosts tell you all about arthritis: The different types, signs and symptoms, how to tell one type from another, treatment both natural and conventional, plus much more.
mass fire extinguisher recall includes ours!
A mass recall of fire extinguishers going all the way back to 1973 is in the news after a fire rescue team couldn’t save a victim due to the failure of the all-important device. Is your device affected? Listen to Nurse Amy give an account of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report.
Plus, a listener who has lost his sense of smell; could it be allergies? could it be a chronic medical condition. Listen to his story and Dr. Alton’s thoughts.
It may not be the wisest move to be fruitful and multiply in the early going after a disaster. You need all your people at 110% efficiency, and that isn’t part of the deal with pregnancy, with all that fatigue, discomfort, nausea, and other symptoms. The best plans of mice and men often go awry, however, and you might find yourself taking care of a pregnancy and, eventually, delivering a baby.
Old Dr. Bones, retired obstetrician, and Nurse Amy, retired nurse-midwife, give you their perspectives on how to make labor and delivery manageable and result in a healthy baby and healthy mother. There’s more to it that we can fit in a one hour podcast, but you’ll learn a lot I’ll bet your didn’t know!
All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP…
The human body is a marvel of engineering. Its dexterity, strength, and stamina allow amazing feats of athleticism and, yes, survival in the worst adversity; but wear and tear takes its toll over time on just about everything with moving parts (even you). The resulting loss of work efficiency and mobility, bad enough in normal times, can decrease your chances to succeed after a major disaster.
The moving parts in our skeletal frame are known as joints. Each one has varying amounts of range of motion and strength. They are remarkably durable, but break down with time and strain. The longer lives of modern humans has, thus, caused a high prevalence of joint disease called “arthritis”.
It’s thought that 54 million Americans today suffer from some form of arthritis, and that the number will rise to 78 million by the year 2040. Although you might consider arthritis a disease of the elderly, two-thirds of the cases occur in pre-retirement age individuals.
Some cases of arthritis get their start with an injury
Risk factors for arthritis include:
Age: Many types of arthritis are more common as people get older
Sex: Women are more likely to get certain types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more prone to a form of arthritis known as “gout”.
Family history: Some types of arthritis seem to run in families.
Injuries: Increased strain can injure joints, which can eventually lead to arthritis. This is seen in athletes, but can occur from manual labor, after surgery, or an accident.
Obesity: Those who lead sedentary lifestyles and are obese suffer long-standing strain on the joints in the hips, knees, and back, which can lead to arthritis.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Symptoms of arthritis may include:
Joint stiffness and decreased range of motion
Reluctance to use the affected joint due to discomfort
Accumulation of fluid or other material (like uric acid in gout) in the joint space
Muscle weakness (with chronic arthritis)
Fever (if caused by an infection)
Types of Arthritis
osteoarthritic changes to the knee
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, especially in older individuals. It can affect just about any joint in the body. Hands, feet, back, hip, and knees are most commonly affected, but osteoarthritis can occur even in the spinal column.
Osteoarthritis is acquired by daily wear and tear on the joints, although it can also be a long term effect of a previous injury which accelerates degeneration. Obesity can increase stress on joints and lead to osteoarthritis, as well.
Warm compresses are useful to treat discomfort and stiffness. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin are helpful, as is Capsaicin cream or ointment.
The worst cases may require oral or injectable steroids. Sometimes, a needle is placed to drain excess fluid from an affected joint to give relief. This is call “arthrocentesis”. This procedure may decrease pain, but could introduce infection into the joint if not performed with care.
Severe rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common auto-immune disease in the world today. In RA. the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The attack is not only directed at the joint but to other parts of the body. Unlike some other joint diseases, rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the same joint on both sides of the body. Women seem to be more susceptible than men.
Rheumatoid arthritis especially affects joints in the fingers and wrists, but is also common in knees and elbows. Over time, it can lead to severe deformities if not treated. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in younger populations than osteoarthritis, even striking children on occasion.
Changes seen in rheumatoid arthritis
Other symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis that you might not see with degenerative osteoarthritis:
Dryness, Itching or burning in the eyes
Strange sensations in the hands or feet
Nodules under the skin
Chest pain when taking a breath
At present, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Treatments concentrate on easing the symptoms. Medical therapy includes strong anti-inflammatory medications such as oral steroids (example: Prednisone).
Another auto-immune disorder that can cause joint disease is known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Although usually diagnosed by blood testing, Lupus can be differentiated from rheumatoid arthritis due to its one-sided nature. You will also see patients with SLE experience hair loss and body rashes. Lupus is often treated with long-term oral steroids.
Even though rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, it is thought to be possible to prevent the condition from worsening. Weight loss is one way to improve symptoms and prevent progression. Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and joints is also thought to be helpful.
Bacterial arthritis (sometimes called “septic” arthritis) is often the result of some penetrating injury that allows organisms to invade the joint space. It can also occur from within, as when a blood infection (septicemia) or bone infection (osteomyelitis) has spread to a joint.
Common skin bacteria, such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, are the usual suspects; certain sexually transmitted diseases, like gonorrhea can also be the cause, although viruses and even fungi may be involved.
Typical symptoms of a bacterial arthritis are the same as osteoarthritis, except that the patient may have a fever and may exhibit redness or warmth over the affected joint. In addition to treatment for pain, arthrocentesis (removal of fluid with a needle) and intravenous antibiotics in the Keflex family (cephalosporins) or others may be helpful if the cause is bacterial.
Psoriasis is a relatively common skin condition that causes the formation of multiple red, scaly patches. This leads to itching and may be considered by some unsightly, but 30 per cent of sufferers also develop inflammation of the joints known as “psoriatic arthritis”.
Psoriatic arthritis victims may be differentiated from degenerative arthritis by nail changes that look like fungal infections, redness in the eyes, excessive fatigue, and swollen fingers and toes (the areas most commonly affected). The condition is most commonly treated with NSAIDs like ibuprofen for pain, steroids, and anti-psoriasis pharmaceuticals. Early treatment may lead to less severe damage to joints.
Gout with Tophi
Gout is another condition that destroys joints over time. Inflammation is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint. Some people simply produce too much uric acid or don’t eliminate it well. Obesity is a major risk factor, as is diabetes. This illness occurs primarily in men; a history of certain types of kidney stones may be associated with episodes of gout.
The presentation of gout will appear as:
Inflammation in one or two joints. The big toe is the classic example, but knees and ankles may also be affected.
Warm, red, painful joints. The pain is throbbing and often severe. Even laying a sheet over it may cause pain.
Episodic repeat attacks (50% of cases).
What gout feels like
After multiple episodes, permanent damage occurs and the joint loses its range of motion. Chronic sufferers may also develop lumps composed of uric acid crystals called “tophi”. Tophi are lumps below the skin, mostly around joints like the big toe. They may drain chalky material from time to time.
Specialized prescription drugs are available for gout, such as Colchicine and Allopurinol. If you have a family member with gout, encourage them to stockpile extra medications; they won’t be found in your standard medic’s storage.
Lifestyle and dietary changes may be helpful in improving the quality of life of individuals with gouty arthritis. Consider:
Reducing how many uric acid elevating foods you eat. These include: Liver, red meat, herring, sardines, anchovies, kidney, beans, peas, mushrooms, asparagus, and cauliflower. .
Avoiding fatty foods
Eat enough carbohydrates
Natural Options For Arthritis
From an alternative standpoint, there are various treatments for joint pain caused by arthritis. Glucosamine supplements are popular. It should be noted that glucosamine sulfate preparations have more evidence for their effectiveness than glucosamine hydrochloride. Take 1,500 milligrams once a day on a regular basis.
Glucosamine, when paired with chondroitin sulfate 800-1,200 milligrams a day, has been shown to possibly slow progression of some arthritic conditions.
Two teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar mixed with a teaspoon of honey twice a day is a time-honored treatment. Other oral supplements reported to be effective against joint pain are:
Fish Oil (no more than 3 grams per day)
Bathua leaf juice
For external use, warm and cold compresses are useful. Warmth increases blood flow to the joint, while cold decreases inflammation and swelling. Other options include:
Capsaicin ointment or cream
Use Arnica essential oil on affected areas (good for muscle aches as well)
Apply warm vinegar to aching joints.
Mix powdered sandalwood into a paste; it has a cooling effect when rubbed on a joint.
A number of other modalities may alleviate the pain of arthritis and improve range of motion. Acupuncture, massage therapy, and physical therapy may alleviate muscle spasms. Electricity delivered by a device known as a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit may be helpful. Other suggest magnets applied to injured joint. These are just a few of the many alternative remedies available. Do your own research and make your own conclusions.
Joe Alton MD
Joe Alton MD
Fill those holes in your medical supplies with kits and individual items from Nurse Amy’s store at store.doomandbloom.net.
In this video, Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, steps in front of the camera to discuss disaster food supplies. Food, water, and shelter (don’t forget air!) are absolute basics for survival in a major disaster, followed by, in our opinion, medical supplies. Using common sense regarding your food storage will give your family the best chance to succeed, even when everything else fails.
To watch, click below:
Food Supplies for Disasters and Survival - YouTube
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Amy Alton ARNP
Fill those holes in your disaster medical supplies with kits and individual items from Nurse Amy’s store at store.doomandbloom.net.
In the Parkland high school shooting in South Florida, just a few miles from my home, we saw the extremes of human fortitude in the persons of Coach Aaron Feis and Deputy Scot Peterson. Peterson, a trained security professional, stayed outside while a shooting was in progress in the area he was hired to defend. Feis, a man not charged with the safety of others, protected them with his body at the expense of his own life.
I have thought about the idea of courage often; my writings on disaster preparedness presuppose that a certain amount is necessary to be resilient in the face of adversity. Yet, can a person really know what they will do when faced with a decision that can cost them their life?
Some just naturally run towards the sound of gunfire, while others naturally run in the other direction. The Department of Homeland Security recommends going the other way in their “Run, Hide, Fight” triad for active shooter events. There are those, however, who will run towards danger. Many of these individuals are or were in the military, law enforcement, and fire/emergency services.
Examples might be hitting the beach on D-day, running into the World Trade Center on 9/11, or perhaps the nurse who ran into the building to help victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. In many of these instances, they knew they were in danger, but went above and beyond.
Rebecca Anderson, RN, died attempting to rescue victims of the Oklahoma City bombing
Courage takes other forms as well. If you were, for example, the first African-American student in an all-white school district during the civil rights era or the first woman cadet in a military academy, you’ll never have to prove your bravery and determination to me in any other way.
You might think courage is an inborn virtue, constant over a lifetime. I’m not sure about that. I, personally, was a fearful little boy, then became a (stupidly) fearless teenager. I eventually morphed into an average adult. Now, in my golden years, I may have more of a tendency to head towards the sound of gunfire; after all, what have I got to lose at this point? Sit me in front of a doctor telling me that I have cancer, however, and that might be a very different story.
Then there’s the fortitude it takes to re-invent yourself. I don’t consider myself to be particularly courageous. After I retired from the active practice of medicine, I was tempted to take up golf. It was something I had tried years before but was, frankly, terrible at. Instead, I decided, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to write a blog about preparedness. That led to writing books, podcasts, a YouTube channel, and an entirely different career all about teaching others to survive natural or man-made disasters.
It’s hard to teach courage, but you can foster motivation in people. If people are taught the importance of something, they might be more apt to defend it. Loving something deeply also gives you the motivation to be brave in its defense. I can’t think of something more important than the lives of our young people. Coach Feis realized this, and acted accordingly.
Is courage contagious? Fear certainly is. If 50 people around you drop to the floor at the sound of gunfire, you might do the same. If those same people run towards the sound of gunfire, you might, too, although it puts you at risk. You might consider this foolhardiness rather than courage (Homeland Security does), but, where a gunman is concerned, you’re more likely to stop the killing by doing something other than laying on the floor in plain sight.
many founding fathers lost their entire fortune and some their lives by their decision to support the patriot cause
Speaking of fear, courage is not the absence of it, but. rather, the overcoming of it. There is physical courage and there is moral courage. Our founding fathers were men of wealth and privilege, and it would have been very easy to support remaining a colony of England. But they realized the importance of freedom, and put their fates and fortunes on the line to bring forth a new nation.
Activism is a form of courage, but courage is not just the act of speaking up; sometimes, shutting up and listening to opposing viewpoints takes fortitude as well. If more people would sit down and listen to each other, we might come more easily to agreement on a lot of today’s controversies. This takes more courage than keeping a closed mind.
If we are to be resilient in the face of adversity, it is courage, above all other virtues, that will make it possible. If we are to survive as a society, it will be because of the fortitude and strength of our citizens to pick up the flag, so to speak, and move forward. That goes for active shooter incidents and it goes for every obstacle you face in life.
One of the worst injuries that can occur in a disaster or other off-grid setting is the traumatic amputation. In the Civil War era. amputations on the battlefield or later in the field hospital resulted in 1/4 to 1/2 of the victims succumbing to their wounds. In an EMP attack, we could easily be thrown back to that era medically, and we should consider what can be done for those injured so horrifically.
Joe Alton MD attempts to tackle this delicate subject that others won’t touch in this video, knowing the limitations on the medic and the lack of sterility in most instances. See him explain his thoughts and rationale on what can and can’t be done, and some tips on what to do when confronted with the traumatic amputation.
To watch, click below:
Amputation Injuries in Off Grid Survival Scenarios - YouTube
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe and Amy Alton MD
Amy and Joe Alton
Fill those holes in your medical supplies with individual kits and supplies from Nurse Amy’s entire line at store.doomandbloom.net.
You’ve heard “Be Fruitful and Multiply”, but in the early aftermath of a major long-term disaster, getting your women pregnant and having babies might be problematic when your garden isn’t doing so well and you need every person at 110% efficiency. But how to prevent pregnancy when IUDs, Birth Control Pills, and other high tech methods aren’t available. Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, tell you what you need to know about natural family planning.
Anxiety and depression are part and parcel of long-term survival
Plus, your may associate a long-term disaster with a lot of gunfights at the OK corral, but you’re much more likely to deal with anxiety and depression than bullet wounds (we hope). Find out Dr. Alton’s thought about the subject as he answers a question from a listener of the Survival Podcast as part of good friend Jack Spirko’s Expert Council.
All this and more on The Survival Medicine Hour with Amy Alton ARNP and Joe Alton MD!
Wishing you the best of health in good time or bad,
Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP
Hey, do us a favor and please follow us on twitter @preppershow, YouTube at DrBones NurseAmy Channel, and Facebook at Doom and Bloom ™; and don’t forget to check out our third edition of the award winning Survival Medicine Handbook at Amazon or on our website!
VIDEO: Getting Rid of Rodents in Good Times or Bad
not a very welcome guest
Every year, a percentage of our food supply is contaminated by the dropping and urine of rats and mice. It’s bad enough in normal times, but it can be a disaster off the grid. Rodents also carry diseases that can affect the health of your group members at a time when modern medicine may not be available. Therefore, it makes sense to eliminate your unwanted guests!
In this video, which follows up on a previous video on rodent-proofing a home, Joe Alton MD tells you what to do if you already have an issue with rat and mice infestation. Various ways to tell that you’ve got visitors and methods to get rid of them are discussed in some detail.
To watch, click below:
Getting Rid of Rats or Mice from Your Home: Vanquish These Vermin! - YouTube
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,