Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lesson Five: Medical Reference Books

(Note: All references updated to 2012.)

The following was one response to the prior article, when it was posted:

   "Unfortunately most folks aren't going to dedicate that much time, or be able to for that matter.    The new “first responder" training is useful, but the medical portion is so basic (less than the basic first aid courses) that it absolutely must be supplemented with the basic and advanced first aid courses at a minimum.

The problem is, there aren’t a lot of programs in between the advanced first aid course, and the EMT course; except as you said putting it all together yourself; and without direct knowledge and experience of what's going to be covered that can be difficult.
For years I've been wishing for a program that covered basic and advanced first aid, as well as emergency response, basic emergency diagnostics, and basic trauma care; in a way comprehensive enough to be meaningful; but that could be covered with a few weekends of instruction plus home study."

I’ve known active-duty combat arms Marines who managed to squeeze in an EMT course, but I understand those who can’t. That’s why I hinted that you can do the work piecemeal—it’s better than nothing.

If you can't do an EMT course, do the Red Cross Basic First Aid & CPR.
Then take their 4 hour How To Measure Blood Pressure module.
Volunteer with Ski Patrol, or at a local ER one or two nights a month for several months, and do or see as much as they’ll let you.
Get your lifeguard card and do that for a season.
Take any wilderness first aid classes you can at the local hiking stores, or diver first aid/Dive Medic/Rescue Diver courses.
Bit by bit you’ll be a first-class responder.
I worked with an ER senior Resident instructor doctor who could literally dump out a walletful of 140 certifications.
He’d invariably start a lecture, even to other doctors and nurses with that trick, followed by his own, “SO WHAT? Either I know what I’m talking about, or I’m full of crap. Alphabet soup and wall plaques don’t save lives. That’s what your BRAIN is for.”

With that in mind, Lesson Five: Books Are Your Friends

I learned that from the daycare lady who took care of me at 4 years of age. I blame her for the fact that I’ve got cartons of the things around, because the spare bedroom/library is overflowing.

But with medical books, it’s a gold mine. Dig in, friends.

As a start, begin with the highly readable (i.e. dumbed down but basic and accurate) Red Cross Basic First Aid, Advanced First Aid, and CPR for the Professional Rescuer texts. Ideally, get them because you took the classes.
Then, add on the flyers, handouts, and pamphlets from any other training you receive.

Even if you never take the class (and yet again, you should) to be an EMT, there’s no law against getting and working through a good EMT text on your own. Get through a chapter a week, especially if you can find one with a companion workbook, and you’ll be miles ahead of people who do nothing. Mosby and other publishers make good ones, or you can check your local CC/Occ. Ctr. student bookstore to see what they use.

Lacking that, I can’t recommend anything more highly than the most recent edition (10th, currently)of Emergency Care and Transportation of the Sick and Injured by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It’s the gold standard, IMHO, and if you passed high school English, you’ll “get” it.

Another must-have is Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid by Dr. William Forgey. It’s a fabulous comprehensive handbook for anyone who’s concerned about medical help in the great outback anywhere in the world, and Dr. Forgey (I met him once) is great doc and a prince of a man in getting the information to the average person. Buy this book!

The current Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook is also quite valuable. Unlike 18D training, I do not recommend shooting and treating your own goat, however. And the now prehistoric (30 years out of date) edition of SF Medical Handbook ST 31-91B should be saved as a historical reference, not so much used as a medical one. Unfortunately, the ancient text is the one of which every table at a gunshow has a stack, but the up to date version has to be obtained either from the GPO, or Amazon. A more basic first aid overview is in the Air Force’s Aircrew Survival, AF 64-5.

Another text I’d heartily recommend is Where There Is No Doctor. It was written by tofu-eating tree-hugging Leftists doing Peace Corps-type work in Third World $#!^holes, but nonetheless the text is informative, readable, and very useful, especially from a preparedness standpoint.
The companion book Where There Is No Dentist is less useful, but still of value.

As noted in the previous post, for setting up shop in austere circumstances, two books are worthwhile. Survival Nurse by Ragnar Benson, is a good basic overview of running a care station in either the Third World, or after the Third World War. And for a book geared specifically for making do in such circumstances, Improvised Medicine: Providing Care In Extreme Environments by Iverson, 2011, is very worthwhile.

If you can find the old olive colored texts, get a pre-1970 Red Cross Advanced First Aid textbook at a secondhand bookstore. {Nota bene, some things, like prehistoric CPR, and cutting on snakebites, are obsolete and verboten.} But they contain a lot of skills and ideas, particularly for bandaging and splinting that are still dead-on, and it’s more knowledge in your head.

If you get to where you’re ready for the big leagues, Lange’s Current Emergency Diagnosis & Treatment, or the Emergency Medicine textbook by Tintinalli et al are the bibles of current ER physicians. 90% of the information is mentally accessible and useable to someone with a good lay knowledge, and I’ve seen both at Barnes & Noble or Borders. Consider adding the current Merck Manual, Taber’s Medical Dictionary, to explain some things you might not understand, and any current one of the various Nursing Drug Handbooks (Lippincott's version is my personal preference). And of course, Amazon can get you almost anything.

If you get that far, even with no diploma, you’re a frickin’ medical supergenius, and will be very handy in an emergency.

My library would break an elephant’s back. But my brain only weighs 3 pounds or so, and I take it with me almost everywhere (occasionally it seems to go missing, but it usually turns up by suppertime). Get as much knowledge out of the books and into your brain as you can to be truly prepared. That’s true with every subject, but doubly so with medical knowledge. It’ll even make you a better patient when you see your doctor. (Trust me, medical professionals appreciate smart patients.)

Don’t worry about not knowing all the high-tech modern medical stuff. Any modern nurse probably knows more about medical “stuff” than a doctor did near the turn of the last century and then some. It’s kind of frightening, but 1900-era medicine didn’t do too badly at preserving the human race. Most of that modern knowledge is still found in books. They’re lightweight, require no batteries, and work anywhere there’s enough light to read.

So get some, read them, and improve your odds of survival.

No comments: