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Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid Paperback – November 6, 2012
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In a book this size (and it's small enough to pack), there are going to be some omissions and this book has them, but they are surprisingly few and what it does have more than compensates for the occasional oversight. Blessedly, there is a minimal amount of verbage wasted on basic stuff, like washing your hands and boiling your water and not relieving yourself in your water source. This book presumes you are not a complete idiot and, instead, largely confines itself to providing a good "hands on" instruction on how to deal with specific medical problems which can arise while you're fleeing the chaos. It does contain some information on what all to keep in your medical kit, though it is weak on providing acquisition options and sources. It is also somewhat weak on the issue of medication effects and usage, however, before you stick a copy of the "Merck Manual" or the "PDR" in your back pack, you might want to check out the (green tabbed) medication section in Hesperian's "Where There is No Doctor", which is the best "field guide" to that particular topic I've encountered (note that you can download that section from the Hesperian website). See my review of that book.
Bottomline, unless you have an "M.D." behind your name, don't go into the woods without this book in your pack.
Admittedly the decision was a close one. But when I took all mitigating factors into consideration, "Wilderness Medicine" edged out all the rest. The reasons for my choice are simple. It is "selectively thorough" meaning that Dr. Forgey addresses those situations you are most likely to see and omits that which is exceedingly uncommon.
The book is approachable by non-medically trained people. Anyone with a modicum of education and with the proper supplies can use this book to provide effective medical treatment.
Third, I wanted the author to keep in mind the circumstances and the treatment environment. There's more than a few brilliant wilderness medical texts that automatically assume you're going on an expedition to the Himalayas with a staff physician and an unlimited budget for medical gear and complete with a squad of Sherpas to carry it all. Dr. Forgey kept things in perspective, especially in adhering to his basic philosophy of utilizing multifunctional and improvised components while still having redundant capabilities.
Another reason this book gets the nod is the section on cardiac care including a drug list that enables effective treatment. There was a time when most serious wilderness trekkers were young and fit and healthy. No so any longer. The very young and the very old can be found in a lot of places you'd never expect to see them. Same for the unfit. I actually stopped hiking my favorite day trail on weekends...I simply grew tired of treating heat related illnesses and dehydration and musculoskeletal injuries caused by obesity. Carrying a sick or injured fat kid uphill to the trail head is not how I wanted to spend my weekends.
Of course there are a few things I wish this book would have been addressed better, and that's why I gave it four stars instead of five. I would have preferred better coverage of pediatric/child injuries including drugs and dosages.
Since this book is geared towards sustained travel in remote areas I would like to see some long (2-3 weeks) term issues addressed. Complete urinary retention can be fatal. I would like to see more attention paid to wet-to-dry wound care in lieu of sutures/staples. I have encountered what I consider to be a higher than normal number of eye injuries, especially among campers who build open fires. I even developed a very light cobalt blue light source for foreign body detection.
In the 6th ed. Dr. Forgey has seriously scaled back his recommended medical kit. Prior editions included a well thought out very sophisticated medical surgical assemblage that seemingly reached it's pinnacle of development in the 4th ed. In this edition (and the 5th) it's been reduced to a splinter removal-hemorrhoid treatment first aid kit unworthy of being called a medical kit. I'm not sure why this was done. Admittedly the kit was very expensive especially if you opted for imported German surgical instruments (Miltex brand-$$$$) as I did. But I don't think that justified cutting it back that seriously, especially for something so critical as your medical kit.
In fact, I'm going to use this venue to ask Dr. Forget for a new edition. A lot of very effective products he recommended in earlier editions are no longer available or are impossible to find: Nu Gauze pads, Spyroflex everything, Beirsdorf CoverStrip II wound closure tape, pontocaine ophthalmic OINTMENT (incredibly easy to use...I sorely miss it!)...and other items I can't recall at the moment. So come on Doc! Your number one...at the top! Give us a 7th ed. and stay there.
But, what surprised me is that he lists medications. Most books assume you have no access to meds in wilderness or other "no access to a hospital" situations. But, sometimes, you will. Even if it's just a bottle of penicillin someone left in a bag, or a bottle of Keflex in an old medicine chest. So, it's nice to have the guidelines there, on the off-hand chance that you have them. Very few people, outside of the regularly prescribing medical community, know which antibiotics to use for what. So, kudos to covering every possibility, even a good one!
Most recent customer reviews
Informative plus easy to understand.
Highly recommend this book for anyone that could end up in a disaster...Read more