Survival Medicine Handbook

“There may come a day when emergency personnel may not be available to save your life or that of your loved ones. In this situation YOU will be the end of the line when it comes to the medical well being of your family. Do you have the knowledge and training to take on that responsibility?”

Source: The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook (1st Edition)

UPDATE: the 2nd & 3rd Edition listed below:

An often overlooked skill set for ’emergency preparedness’ is that of First Aid.

It’s taken for granted in our modern world where most of us are assured of modern health care.

However in a post-modern world (e.g. collapse), things would be very different. Even a basic understanding of first aid should be a requirement for all preppers.

The 423 page Survival Medicine handbook is sectioned into 8 categories, each containing specific segments or topics.

Here is a topic sampling from inside the handbook:

Principles of Medical Preparedness
Discusses the history, psychology and principles of preparedness medicine, collapse medicine, integrated and wilderness medicine.

Becoming a Medical Resource
Includes status assessment, likely issues you will face, skills you will want to learn, supplies, remedies, and more…

Hygiene, Sanitation and Environment
Dental issues, respiratory infections, food and water-borne illness, diarrheal disease, food poisoning

Appendicitis, urinary tract infections, hepatitis, abscesses, mosquito borne illness, athletes foot, and more…

Environmental Factors
Heat stroke, hypothermia, wildfires and smoke inhalation, radiation sickness, etc.

Injuries and Reactions
Injuries to soft tissues, minor wounds, major wounds, stitches, suture, blisters, burns, bites, stings, rashes, sprains, fractures, and more…

Chronic Medical Problems
Thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers and acid reflux, seizure, joint disease, kidney and gall bladder stones

Other Important Medical Issues
CPR in a collapse situation, headache, eye care, nosebleeds, earache, hemorrhoids, pregnancy and delivery, anxiety and depression, stockpiling medications, how to use antibiotics, expiration dates


One day there may come a time when a pandemic, civil unrest or terrorist event may precipitate a situation where the miracle of modern medicine may be unavailable. Indeed, not only unavailable, but even to the point that the potential for access to modern facilities no longer exists.

Help is NOT on the way; therefore, you have become the place where the “buck” stops for the foreseeable future, at least when it comes to your medical welfare.

Few are prepared to deal with this harsh reality. To go further, very few are willing to even entertain the possibility that such a tremendous burden might be placed upon them. Even for those willing, there are few, if any, books that will consider this drastic turn of events.

Survival Medicine Handbook (2nd Edition)
The Survival Medicine Handbook:
A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

Survival Medicine Handbook (3rd Edition)
The Survival Medicine Handbook:
THE essential guide when help is NOT on the way

We have a number of First Aid related articles here on Modern Survival Blog. Hopefully you’ve given First Aid some consideration while your prepare…

So here’s a question for you…
What First Aid skills would you recommend that others learn how to do?

Similar Posts


  1. Become very good friends/related to a GP. Some first aid classes (often free) would also be of some benefit.

  2. Start with the basic CPR-first aid class in your area. Next find out when the advance class will be given so that you can schedule it into your itinerary. In our area the local fire station captain & EMT has classes for those who are interested.

    While you are in the class ask about being shown the proper way to do the Heimlich maneuver(upper thrust) for a person who is choking. I have had to use this method twice, once on an elderly friend(meat), and a student in the cafeteria(carrot).

  3. Good books to have and USE and STUDY !!!!!! Short of joining a volunteer fire department and taking EMT/first responders training. At least study with these books and study NOW. You need to know what to do when when some thing happens. Use the books to learn NOW and as back up, and don’t think you know enough when you master these books. Also get a PDR, ask your doctor for an out of date one, for what you need it for it would be fine, also think about the military training manuals.
    try Edward Hamilton bookseller for them.

    Tea and chocolate time.

  4. This was one of the first survival books I bought….I have the 2nd edition…this is (imho) a GREAT book to have…

    Has a section about HOW to use and take antibiotics and for what ailments.

    Has a blend of conventional and holistic/alternative treatment options.

    Yes, good resource to have on hand~

  5. Well as I have said before, I’m fairly much Brain Dead when it comes to medical preparedness. AND I know I need to correct that, hence my late interest in Antibiotics and getting my First-Aid “stuff” together.

    I have done a few First-Aid classes in the past, yet I feel very uneasy about the training or lack of training I have involved myself in.

    I have visited the Authors of this book’s website several times; honestly it’s very VERY overwhelming to say the least. Thousands and Thousands of Articles and a LOT of good info, but like a kid, I really have NO idea where to start.

    So maybe this book is a good place to begin, I have NO idea; or maybe like the rest of my prepping I should do lot of evaluation to find which way I should head?

    I do know there are a lot of y-all out there that swear by “natural” healing, some use a combination, MOST are a lot smarter than me about this stuff…… Hence the question, where do ya really start? BUT again where to begin with “Natural” healing? Same problem; where to begin without becoming a Doctor.

    Rather discouraging

    1. I agree regarding the overwhelming aspect of some of the First Aid related sites and information. It’s their specialty, and like nearly any profession it can go from beginner to advanced…

      I do have an opinion though that at least ‘some’ knowledge of the basics, ‘how-to’ this or that will set you up far better than most others. One question to consider is “What are the basics that would be the best to know”?

    2. “Where to begin with natural healing?”

      We use conventional treatments at times, but our preference is to seek out natural means or remedies if available….

      A place to start is…are there any current health issues/concerns that I have that can also be addressed by natural remedies? It could be just therapeutic or more…

      Some things are for acute situations others for the long term…

      And I know NRP you make a drink that has lots of spices including turmeric
      and I agree as you once mentioned that is great for your joint health, an wonderful anti-inflammatory…

      First aid…antibacterial for example…tea tree oil or lavender are both ant-bacterial and can be used diluted to make a an antibacterial spray…very effective. Many “recipes” on the web.

      Plantain leaves (which we have an abundance of) chewed up or pounded into a paste can stop minor bleeding… and it helps heal the epidermal layer of skin.

      Organic peppermint tea is our first choice for treating indigestion…

      Garlic…as medicine yielded 7.5 million links on Bing…

      Encouragement to keep doing our “homework” learning, watching, reading, and practicing :)

      1. Plantain leaves are also good to treat stings, bites,and poison ivy rash.

        I make a tincture from them and keep them for topical use …I leave a few leaves in for applicators, take out use and discard.i double tincture..and use it sevral times over 15 minutes.. within an hour i can’t tell i was bitten…

        You can also make a tea of the leaves and drink it, for gastric irritation. Did you know what ever the inside of your mouth looks like, generally that is the condition of your mucosa in your throat, stomach and intestines?

        example.. That baby that gets the thrush,(some adults get it as well), is raw all inside.

        There ARE herbs that kill yeast.

    3. @ NRP, if you are interested in learning about natural remedies, I highly recommend “Natural Healing With Herbs” by Humbart Santillo.

      It is used as a textbook in many herbalist certification courses. Very user friendly. It teaches you how to think about healing. That being said, first aid is different. Both are valuable skill sets and complementary.

      I used to have Wilderness First Responder cert. I also used to be an herbal practitioner. Healing is multi-layered and complex. Like any new set of skills, start with the basics and gradually build upon it. I didn’t start brewing beer by roasting and malting grains that I grew.

      1. @ Antique Collector

        Also some good looking prospective books…. will defiantly be checking these out also

        Thank you

    4. NRP, Start with controlling your most common health issues…or anticipated concerns.

      I am not a Doctor nor do I play one on TV..

      I got a crash course when my DM was sent home with an infection and no known antibiotics to treat. Mom trusted me more than she trusted the doctors who sent her home to die. She had 19 more months to say goodbye and see nieces, nephews, brothers, and immediate family.. This list will give you a toe hold….just a beginning place.It is not compete.

      For me : KEY Problems ..infections, viruses, stomach issues, injuries.

      These cover most medical in some manner. Know most herbals have an short half life, so a 4 hr dosing is preferred for as much of the day as possible and should be continued at least 2 days after all symptoms have gone.

      One skill builds on another…ie.. If you know how to prevent an infection(from a dog bite) then you can prevent an infection in a cut on your leg.

      Learn how to clean a wound, keep it clean and remove debris out and sterilize the wound…Yes sterilize.( I used bleach and Epsom salt, betadine, sugar) and drawing salve. Wounds are not “set it and forget it”, they require a schedule of care…at least every 8 hours until well healing and infection is gone..You need to look at what a clean wound looks like and what a dirty wound looks like..and know how to get it from dirty to clean…

      You need loads of clean and sterile dressings. large band-aids, medical tape or non adhesive wrap, vet wrap. And feminine pads individually wrapped make very good absorbent and sterile dressings… they come in many sizes.. should have at least 5 of every size, and don’t forget the Tampax, they also have many first aid applications to stop nose bleed, and to plug a wound..

      A typical infection will require a minimum of 12 days dressings 3x a day for 4 days then 2 x a day for a min of 6, and once daily for 3-4… depending on the nutritional status and infection status.

      Look at wound care for abdominal wounds for MRSA…learn the process.

      Learn how to make colloidal silver. Youtube is your friend… you need to understand that gastric juices destroy it and best used under the tongue for up to 2 min then swallow,..and should use every 4 hrs. It treats internal and external infections. Honey with tree tea oil makes a hack for manuka honey to be used externally.. also a good anti infective. Don’t forget learning how to develop the anti infective ingredient in GARLIC…

      Learn herbs for upper respiratory infections.(and consequently URI’s).. a good place to start is learn about pippsisswea and usnea. for chest congestion you will also need decongestants and things to use for an anti histamine effect…Pippsisswea also has a slight diuretic effect, good for those with CHF. Heart condition or b/p/ blood sugar?.. check out huckleberry leaves, b/p and sugar modulator according to herbalist walk by Darryl Patton.hawthorn,(CHF, a-fib) bitter melon ceylon cinnamon, hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia) …not all you would need but has helped others…

      Learn how to detox your body.. good ones to start with? look @: milk thistle, parsley and dandelion.. some mushrooms as well…

      Stomach problems: Depends on the problem? IBS, lack of enzymes, diarrhea, Sweet Everlasting/tea. (I use 12 leaves per cup/steep 20 min, can use stems and roots as well.) This can also be inhaled for asthma. Light abt. 6 leaves and breath in smoke, works much like albuterol and almost as quick. DH uses.) Magnesium,(MOM) Peppermint/spearmint, blackberry leaves/tea and rehydration formula, a DIY one you can mix form basics, sugar/salt/water/possibly potassium salt/flavor.

      Anti virals: good start would be….oregano, lomatium, fly trap, anti-arthritic/anti-inflammatory. ,…turmeric, ginger, ACV, and you need a good supply of bleach, vinegar, filtered/clean sterile water/ EVERYTHING touching a wound should be as clean as you can get it.. Have a pressure cooker/canner… sterilize those tools.

      You can make wound wash with sterile water, baking soda and salt.

      Any more questions, ask. If I don’t have any experience.. will find someone who can give some direction, for you to find answers.

      Can pass them thru the fire, need to lance an abscess?..sterilize that needle/knife.

      1. Just Sayin’

        Lots of great Info, printed it out for a beginning reference.

        Fortunately I’ve never been really sick and have lived a “event free” life so far, knock on wood.

        Thanks Again

        1. NRP
          “Just Saying” is good at this, she helped me with dh and a friend who’s sister was diagnosed with cancer. I did not include her in my original posting so she could present her knowledge to the group if she wanted too.

          Everyone here needs her Elderberry tincture recipe & cough syrup. Mine is somewhere in this house, heaven only knows where I put it with all the paperwork I had been doing for the family.

          1. @ Antique Collector

            Interestingly enough I was just re-reading her post when you commented….

            I know I have a LOT to investigate and learn, as I have said I have been very lucky as of yet to maintain a rather healthy life… Knock On Wood.

            AND I do appreciate all of the folks around this Blog are so willing and helpful, what a GREAT community Ken has going here.

            Thanks to everyone, y-all are the BEST!!!

        2. You are welcome.
          I don’t check the blog every day, but try to read every one I think I may can contribute to or learn from.Sometimes time does not permit but I try to check the discussion page once daily. Antique Collector can always contact long as I have computer service and the phone works.
          You probably need to center on accident prevention , treatment of wounds and viral treatments and common things like stomach conditions… diarrhea, vomiting,constipation,..I try for three things for each problem…more is better. I find I learn more and quicker if I have an intense interest…so start where your interests are..then you can use that info and build on it.Use it to save you time and money…and prep on.
          If you don’t have active health issues…for medical issues concentrate the ones your parents have/had. Or a good friend has… High cholestrol? b/p or Blood sugar arthritis/gout/inflammatory issues. Bone or cartliidge loss? There are all kinds of info coming out on using your food for medicine… someone evern wrote a book with that title.
          A balanced diet of foods raised in good soil from a person/family/community that is also growing soil..will prevent many issues because the minerals in that soil is balanced.

          1. @ Just Sayin

            Thank you. I really appticiate the info and time. Diffenatly will take your advice under consideration.

            Hence another great reason this Blog is so GREAT, very good people here
            Thank you and all, NRP

  6. Alton’s books are great reading and a must for any library whether you live in the city or in a remote rural area. We do not have many medical skills so we have gotten close with 2 retired medical professionals, 1 M.D. and 1 P.A., we all go to the same church. Some medical skills are far better than none at all .

    As a wise man once said :” a journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step” Gaining medical skills of any kind is a journey , this is an important journey for all folks to take .

    Even today in a”normal” world , it still takes at least 9-15 minutes for a 911 response in our area , plenty of time to bleed out from a severed artery or other serious mishap .

    From my scouting days the old motto ” be prepared” rings loud and clear .

    NRP , a good place to start is with reading this book, it helped to give us direction on our journey.

  7. We have the first edition and think its great. Tons of info,also a lot of common sense every day non emergency facts/tips.

    Is there a big difference between the first edition and this one?

    Would it be worth it to spend the money for the second edition, or maybe use that money to beef up our current first aid kits and medical supplies?

  8. There’s a Third Edition of Alton’s book that came out in 2016. 664 pages, excluding “notes” but including index.

    1. @ FinallyOuttaCA

      You are absolutely correct, the link Ken has up is for the 2013 version, and there is a 2016 version…

      Thanks, I canceled the 2013 and added the 2016 from Amazon….. Same cost.


    2. Thanks for the notice regarding the 3rd Edition. I just updated the article link…

      I have the 1st Edition. Not sure how much additional information is in the 2nd and 3rd, but I would suppose that it’s worth it to get the latest and greatest…

  9. Outside of internal medicine, I have learned a lot of first aid over the years. I took CPR, AED, Bloodborne, and First Aid through courses offered free. However I started when I was young watching doctors sew me up or mend my broken bones and treat ailments. A book like this will get you through the basics. I also go to web MD.

    When I had no money and no insurance for doctors, I have found out how to treat myself on minor things that could turn bad…sometimes too far out in the wilderness on several camping expeditions I had to rely on some natural remedies, learned to take stitches, and a surprising burn treatment I now swear by. I am forever learning.

  10. We have a GP about a mile away. He has had an office in town for about twenty five years. I wonder somewhat just how much help he would be. He writes prescriptions and refers patients to specialists. When I needed a mole removed, a specialist had to do it. I wonder if he has ever set a broken bone. Certainly he has never done surgery. As for the specialists, where would they be without all the medical machinery and support staff?

    We will be on our own.

    Stay frosty.

  11. This book is a good place to start for most anybody.

    I am in the health care field at present time so it is a strength area for me where I end up calling craftsmen like NRP when my heater goes on the blink or something within my home has a major malfunction.

    There are very few General Practitioners out there these days and that was due to a trend I observed while in Nursing School over 20 years ago: Doctors are urged to make a selection from among many specialties while they are in medical school. Emergency Room has become a specialty area. The role of the GP has been taken over by Nurse Practitioners at outlying clinics within cities and towns where as in rural areas, Physician Assistants (PA’s) are working in rural clinics in poor or underserved communities. This change has come about after the many presidents we have had and the changes each one has brought about. (can you say: “Obamacare” anyone?)

    This was not intended to bag on any one president. This is simply an observation from a working nurse who happened to get a degree in Economics prior to going back to the trade schools to become a nurse. Along the way, I took the time to talk to a lot of people as I worked and went through school in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have numerous relatives that are: dentists, chiropractors, vascular surgeons X-ray technicians.

    I got my start diving ambulance with a freshly minted EMT card and a class 3 drivers license in a busy Central Valley town in California so many years ago. (Reagan was President) Somewhere out there, we have a young poster out there who is studying Emergency Medicine on this site. A good career if you are not afraid of the sight of blood.

  12. I have forgotten over and over to order this book but your article
    reminded me and I just ordered it off your site. So. where to start?

    Well, I’d start with certain sections. In my limited prepping so
    far I’ve concentrated on how to obtain water and make it potable.
    So that would lead me to the antibiotics. Small or large SHTF,
    there’s a good chance that some disaster would lead to injuries and
    lack of good water and lack of sanitation facilities as a result.

    Illness from any of those could be life threatening. I’d want to
    know what to give for a cut leading to infection, and what to give
    if I got sick from bad water or bad food. Antibiotics, that’s where
    I’d start. After that, I’d move on to the other chapters, one at
    a time.

    So then the progression for me anyway is to start at the chapters
    which are consequences which need to be dealt with immediately and
    then pick up the rest as I learn and retain each prior one.

    That’s how I’d approach the book and I’ve heard it’s an excellent one.

  13. I guess this is going to be a Knife & Fork with the Elephant thing.

    BUT like I said I KNOW I need to get better at this particular subject, thanks to y-all for the kick in the arzzzzzzz.

    I did get the “book” ordered, the 3rd edition. Thanks FinallyOuttaCA for the info, I love the heck out of Amazon, ordered a book, canceled that one and ordered a second within 20 minutes… HAHAHAHA

    NRP-PHD… Post Hole Digger…. HAHAHA

    1. I know how you feel NRP. It can be a daunting subject to start. I started slow, first looking at our own health issues over the years and starting there. For instance, I don’t get sick too often but when I do it is usually bronchitis. So I started researching on that, then moved on to other ailments. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I figured, I know that I get bronchitis on average at least once every 5 to 7 years, so it was a good starting point for me.

  14. My younger sister, who is a RN. Gave the first edition out for xmas presents last year.
    She was really impressed with how the information, was written for the novice.
    So people like NRP and myself could understand it. I’ve found it very useful if in daily circumstances.
    I’ll get the new edition, and pass mine on. To a stepson who has become aware, finally.

  15. Wife is a labor and delivery RN, step daughter is a family nurse practitioner, stepson’s wife is a RN.

    When I worked security at our local hospital years ago, I learned a lot by watching doctors work on folks in the ER. I can assist any of our medical trained family members if they need me. But it does help to read books to help you learn more. Step daughter reads and has family use herbs more for health purposes. She is a strong believer in herbal medicine. Be prepared and ready. Keep your powder dry.

  16. Thanks, Ken. This looks like a “must have” from the library. I look forward to some good study time.

  17. The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide 2015 is what I own. I’m guessing this other book that you are all talking about newer editions 2012, 2013, and now 2016 are more in depth? Anyone have first hand knowledge of the difference in the two books?

    I definitely agree learning Basic First Aid is a great place to start and build on your knowledge from there. Basic anatomy, major organs location and how they work and of course health issues of family members/those close to you, so you can figure out different treatments and if injuries. I don’t know much about herbs (just what I throw in the spaghetti sauce) so the book recommended by Skibum “Natural Healing with Herbs by Santillo” sounds worth looking into. Always appreciate recommendations.

    When it comes to buying a book or anything else by going through a links on this website, (I’ve no experience with this) does the “kickback to the site owner” only work for the one book or will it also work if you pick several others ones to put in the order? I appreciate this site and would like to give support anyway I can.

    1. @Suebeedo,

      “When it comes to buying a book or anything else by going through a link on this website, (I’ve no experience with this) does the “kickback to the site owner” only work for the one book or will it also work if you pick several others ones to put in the order?”

      Regarding Amazon, yes, this site will get a small commission on the linked product, and any subsequent product that you might order within your order… it lasts for 24 hours from when you click on our link (although the 24-hour clock will be negated if you happen to click someone else’s link on another site – then ‘they’ get the commission on any subsequent order ;) )

      “I appreciate this site and would like to give support anyway I can.”

      And I appreciate that you appreciate supporting this site!! Every little bit helps to keep the lights on…

  18. There are online resources you can study from as well. I just choose what herb I wish to learn about and see what I might need it for and what effects I can expect. When wanting to learn about herbs you should always consult a herbalist!

    Here is a study on a “spaghetti” herb.


  19. Hi all,i have this book and think its an excellent resource. Two books i really like for alternative medicines/ ideas are kitchen medicine and hedgerow medicine by julie and matthew seal. They are clear, easy to read with good photographs. They are published in the uk so not sure about US, however if you ever see copies around i heartily recommend them.

  20. These people are very knowledgeable. This book is a excellent resource. Also check out their website. Thanks Ken for everything you do!

  21. @ NRP, after keeping first things first, ABC, you may want to consider next the medical emergency situations to which your occupation and geographical area are prone. Being focused on that which is relevant may help to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

  22. Invest in a very precise book of herb/plant photographs or maybe drawings. Some plants are so similar. I have one packed away…. duh, time to unpack it.

    1. Mrs. USMCBG
      That is what I like about Rosemary Gladstar’s books, she has pictures and explains different parts of the plant an what it is used for. Skim though her book on line at Amazon, hopefully it will show you the details.

  23. Antique Collector and Mrs. USMCBG I just picked up at Costco, Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs A Beginner’s Guide. There were 2 others by her there as well, but seeing as I didn’t know this author or anything about Medicinal Herbs I figured the beginner’s guide is a good start for me. I hadn’t seen her books there before so don’t know how long they are available there. But it’s nice to know by your comment Antique Collector, that this author comes recommended. Thank you.

    1. Suebeedo
      The herbologist that I spoke about, it was with Mary Gladstar’s books that set her on the path to natural healing. As she advanced she was kind enough to help those of us who were just beginners.

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