Keep your troops alive! Preventative Medicine for Combat Survival

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You may be ‘Secret Squirrel SCUBA Sniper Ninja Bad Ass’ who kicks ass like Chuck Norris. But guess what… Being Travis Haley with your rifle doesn’t mean shit if you come down with some tropical disease because you didn’t take care of yourself. So if you’re leading troops one of the things you have to consider is Preventative Medicine.

Yeah if you don’t get sick or injured then you won’t need a doctor. So Preventative measures are key to freeing up medical resources, so that when you do need a doctor when SHTF they will be more likely to be available to you and your team. I know its not that sexy… in fact it is really boring to be honest.

When you look at what kills most people world-wide. It’s not trauma. Hell not even in war is it trauma. The Russian’s greatest defense isn’t it’s military it is it’s winter. Just ask Napoleon and Hitler. I’m serious… Disease and Non-Battle Injuries are the #1 reason for MEDEVAC out of theater. Couldn’t tell from all the “Combat Rescue” you have been watching huh…Well there is plenty of good information on Google  I highly recommend you download US Army FM 21-10 Field Hygiene and Sanitation and read it.

Now here is where experience comes in…

WATER: Anyone who has spent day 1 in the military knows to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. So water and the containers it is stored in are key to maintaining your health.

Go get yourself some pool test strips at Wal-Mart. You are not going to remember all of 21-10 in the field. You’re not going to remember the proper ratio of bleach to water… But if you can remember 5/2/1 you are good. 5ppm to shock your container 2ppm to store 1ppm to drink.

So let’s say your water storage tank has a little rust in it. How do you get that out? Coca Cola. Just pour some coke on a clean towel and let it sit there for about 15 minutes. Then elbow grease it out. Hey, what about my canteen or camel back? I left water in there and it smells RIPE! Too easy… use mouth wash, vinegar or lemon juice.

FEET: Now baby powder is just cornstarch. You can buy a lifetime supply of baby powder by buying one Costco sized thing of cornstarch, keep filling up the baby powder bottles you already have. Powder yourself daily. You may not get to shower… BABY WIPES!!! You can always keep your feet in good shape by powdering those bad boys up. No one likes the smell of DAF.

You’re likely to get blisters. Well, pantyhose helps reduce friction so consider picking up some… They have a million and one survival and military applications so don’t scoff Mr. Macho Man Randy Savage just get some. Now if you do get blisters pack some moleskin in your first aid kit. It is good to have.

FLIES: Flies are huge spreaders of disease and filth. Now if you ran out of fly-strips you can do what they do in some middle eastern countries and smear feces on a wall and don’t go near that wall. OR you can kill flies and boredom AND impress everyone. There was this Staff Sergeant I worked with, Sargunas was his name and this guy could kill flies with ANYTHING. In fact I saw him kill a fly by picking up a PFC and dropping the private to kill the fly. I thought he must have been at one with the force to be so Yoda like.

Turns out if you slowly creep up on a fly and slowly lower something to crush it… it won’t move. It will just get crushed. I am no expert but I think flies only get keyed up on motion.

ICE SHEETS: Ice sheets are just what the name implies… Ice+Bed Sheets and you put them in a cooler. These are no big secret if you have been in the military. Throw them on someone who is suffering from a heat related injury such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Well what if you don’t have ice or sheets? Well if it is SHTF then take a banana, soak it in cool water and place it around your neck. got more… then in the groin and arm pits. It will cool someone right down.

DRY SKIN: Not to get all Patrick Bateman metro sexual on you but if you are in the suck… and you will be. One of the most asked for items that grunts ask me (the medic) for is chapstick. Now… do I carry 15 million things of chapstick on me? NO! So first get your own. Here is something you can do to keep your lips from drying out. DRINK WATER! Next thing you can do… if you can find it… rub an ice-cube on your lip. Okay so no ice cubes grow in the desert. Well do you have an IFAK (individual first aid kit) with an NPA (nasopharyngeal airway) in it? Does that bad boy have surgilube in it? use that… I can use blood or spit to shove that nose tube in you. You will hate me… but it can be done.

Now I am in my mid 30’s. I get carded for R rated movies. I have a baby face. One reason despite close to 10 years in the service is that I remain fully clothed and wear boonie hats. Avoiding sunburns is huge. So protective clothing is better than sun screen. In fact the medical science might be showing that the sun screen and not the sun are the culprits for the skin cancer. Now I don’t know if that is 100% confirmed but why put chemicals on your skin. I don’t know what that shit is. So don’t go around wearing your boonie hat like Jungle Recon unless you have an epic mustache.

Now if you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share on preventative medicine then post them in the comments below.

Oh and as always don’t go to war without wearing a helmet. Don’t be a fool wrap your tool! Doc doesn’t want to see your pecker any more than you want to show it to him.





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About David Black

Trained and Certified: National Registry EMT, Wilderness EMT, US Army 68W, Tactical Combat Causality Care (TCCC), Basic Life Support for Healthcare Workers, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, US Coast Guard Medical Person In-Charge, Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support. International Trauma Life Support. HAM Radio Technician. Trained and Certified to Instruct: Combat Life Saver Instructor and Community Emergency Response Team Trainer. CPR, AED, First Aid.

15 thoughts on “Keep your troops alive! Preventative Medicine for Combat Survival

  1. Is this it? It seems like this stuff should be more of an after thought. Don’t you think it would be more helpful to list things that could actually save lives. For example, the top three causes for battlefield death are due to: massive blood loss, tension pneumothorax and compromised airway. All three of these can be addressed in a post and regular people can buy the equipment they need to perform these skills. Why aren’t things like emergency trachs, chest decompression needles and tourniquets discussed?

  2. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Keep your hands out of your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  3. To Answer your question more thoroughly Yvette let me do a separate article on useful publications for aspiring medics. Because there is a lot of good stuff out there and there is a lot of crap. I haven’t read any of the older stuff for Combat Medicine MAINLY because TCCC is relatively new and it is always changing. So I spend most of my time keeping current on the latest and greatest. I will say that for a majority of the changes in TCCC is stuff being added. So you don’t need to throw out the old information but rather add to it* (GENERALLY) There is some old stuff that gets contradicted.

    Also let me add that tactical medicine is much more of a perishable skill as it is a base of knowledge. So what you read isn’t as important as how you train.

  4. I personally like “Where There is No Doctor”.

    Not as detailed as a field manual, but covers the basics with easy-to-understand descriptions and pictures.

    • FM 21-76 is detailed but dated. I’m not a fan of coloring inside the lines and one-size-fits-all guides. In theater, everything changes and evolves. I’ll let RC Black answer the TM 8-230 (he’s the medic).

      • Isn’t this the part where you plug the CMF Survival Manual? O_o Haven’t read 21-76 yet but I skimmed through it, seems pretty detailed but lacks the information required for counter-insurgency, counter-surveillance, and homeland defense. Which should include a much more in-depth review of standard CBRN/NBC MOPP guidelines. At first glance, this guide would come in handy if you got stuck in some foreign territory and you just so happened to have 21-76, but not in the event of a true domestic disaster or attack. Just my opinion.

    • MOPP Mission-Oriented Protective Postures

      MOPP Ready — Protective mask is carried. First set of suit, gloves, and boots are available within two hours, second set within six hours.

      MOPP Level 0 — Protective mask carried. Suit, gloves, and boots accessible/available.

      MOPP Level 1 — Suit worn. Mask, gloves and boots carried.

      MOPP Level 2 — Suit and boots worn. Gloves and mask carried.

      MOPP Level 3 — Suit, boots and mask worn. Gloves carried.

      MOPP Level 4 — All protection worn.

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