Book Review by Peter Schroeder
Everything from AMS (acute mountain sickness) to Zika Virus: that’s what Dr. William W. Forgey covers in his new book, Prepper’s Medical Handbook. A full-time family medicine physician and also medical counsel to Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), Forgey has authored several other books including Wilderness Medicine and Basic Illustrated Wilderness First Aid.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all become familiar with (and sometimes even morphed ourselves into) preppers: people who aim to be prepared for both common and dire events under the worst of all possible circumstances. Forgey focuses on the medical aspects of prepping: how to provide life-saving care when you can only rely on yourself or members of your immediate group.
Assessment, stabilization, and treatment. These three steps are crucial for providing aid to an injured person, Forgey explains. Assessment is concerned with developing treatment that could be performed in remote areas by relatively untrained companions. Stabilization is minimizing the damage and doing whatever is necessary to keep the victim functional, or sometimes just alive. Treatment is following the recommended guidance in the book to deal with the injury or illness.
Prepper’s Medical Handbook outlines the necessary skills to know, identify, and manage accidents and injuries both off the grid (in the wilderness with no outside help) and on the grid (when medical assistance can be called in). For example, he gives DIY (yet do no harm) techniques for restoring dislocated shoulders, re-aligning broken bones, and improvising slings and braces. In addition to basic first aid, CPR, and symptom management, Dr. Forgey devotes chapters to poisoning, trauma, fractures, dental care, and treatment of wounds, infections, bites, stings, and burns. One section discusses environmental calamities such as lightning strikes, hypothermia, sunstroke, altitude sickness, frostbite, and more. For extreme situations, he addresses infectious diseases (does that ring a bell?) as well as radiation exposure and biological hazards such as bioterrorism. The final chapter recommends contents for an Off-Grid Medical Kit comprised of practical items from Western medicine as well as alternative and herbal treatments.
With clear explanations of how to perform life-saving techniques even if you have only minimal training, this book is literally a survivor manual for everyone from city slickers to rugged outdoor adventurers. No wonder that at more than 300 pages, Prepper’s Medical Handbook could serve as an introductory text book for medical students.