From over the transom, with thanks:
I am delighted to see the assembled, organized medical resources and references that Flighterdoc, et al., have made available to your readers and voice a full-throated endorsement to download, print, and distribute while we can. After reviewing the extremely thorough list of foundational medical texts posted 10/11 (Grid Down Hospital: Part IV – Medical Books For Your Hospital Library), I do feel a professional obligation to voice a few caveats, even at the risk of being a wet blanket on someone’s self-sufficiency fantasy (Not Flighterdoc, by the way. He sounds solid as an anvil.).
A few words on me. I am a practicing physician (> 10 years in practice) and am heavily involved in teaching the theory, principles, and praxis of medicine to a range of students across nine years of formal training (from freshman medical students to resident MDs who graduated five years ago now pursuing specialty training.) At present, I am personally and primarily responsible for a dozen medical students and as many specialty residents, so I know whereof I speak with regards to medical education.
Here’s the crux of the issue. While obtaining, storing, distributing, and studying medical resources may be laudable, there’s a reason that it takes so very long to produce a competent physician. At a minimum, two years of prerequisite science classes as an undergraduate, four years of medical school (two years of basic science and two years of hands-on rotations), and a minimum of three years of post-graduate training. And after that, it’s called medical “practice” as more than a tongue-in-cheek euphemism for learning on the job. Physicians aren’t infallible demigods, but it’s a hell of a lot of information to cram in a 3-pound brain before you see your first patient. And when faced with blood, let alone emotion, all bets are off.
Your readers are no more capable of using this veritable treasure trove of medical resources under pressure, on-the-fly, to save kith and kin than they are of rising to the occasion for other technical fields informed by experience such as engineering or electronics. Imagine all of the folks who own an HF, have half a shelf of ARRL references, but can’t be troubled to raise an antenna and get on the air when nothing’s on the line–now put a scalpel in their hands alongside potentially deadly meds. Rather scary, yes? This is exactly the same situation as the “closet full of guns, lots of ammunition, superabundant bluster, and no training whatsoever” clowns as we know and despise.
Here’s my suggestion. Unless you are in fact capable of assimilating and accessing full-bore medical references, dial it back. Focus on first-responder levels of utility, not on recreating a field hospital. Get some training–actual hands-on training that doesn’t presuppose access to a higher level of care or the availability of additional resources. This is the definition of wilderness medicine, by the way.
While I have nearly all of the books suggested and ample equipment to go with them, I’m the exception, even among physicians. I’ve been involved in wilderness and austere medicine for more than twenty years. This is my thing, I teach it professionally, and I can tell you that an eager amateur simply isn’t going to bootstrap it in six months. (If you want to go all Canticle for Leibowitz and spend years in the basement poring through Guyton, Netter’s, and Harrison’s by candlelight before emerging as the next Sir William Osler after the collapse, be my guest and let me know how it goes.) I do see some value to obtaining these resources and using them to recruit and equip physicians/PAs/NPs in the future. I am disgusted at the level of non-preparedness among medical professionals who should know better. I kid you not, my medical students shirk from buying stethoscopes, otoscopes, and other basic tools of the trade because “they’re expensive, and besides, I’m going into radiology.” You’re already going hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and you can’t be troubled to spend an extra $500 to equip a black bag so that you can be a general physician first and specialist second? You just demonstrated that you never should have been admitted to med school in the first place.
I could go on in this vein and I won’t use this letter to recruit to the classes and organizations through which I teach. If you want to learn to be useful to yourself, your family, and others, get this book, read through it carefully, then come to me and ask for more:
Less than $20 on Amazon, you cheap bastard. If you get reams of medical textbooks and equipment without the background and experience to apply it, well, it would probably stop a bullet. Or maybe not.
None of the above should be misinterpreted as a criticism of Flighterdoc’s recommendations–he’s on the same page as I am and I wish I knew him. He’s done a spectacular job of compiling first-rate resources–again, download, print, and distribute. I’m just saying that you aren’t going to be running a field hospital when you need one, unless you can recruit someone capable of doing so.