Obviously I haven’t read every book on the subject, but I’ve read quite a few. The ones I turn to most for information and that I think are most worth having:
Where There Is No Doctor – This is one that tops everyone’s list. It’s written for the Peace Corps type who finds himself in a Third World country trying to provide medical aid. The most valuable part of the book, in my opinion, is the appendix at the back listing medications and their uses, brand/generic names, and recommended dosages. This is the sort of info you need when you’re scrounging through burned out pharmacies, wrecked ambulances and abandoned nursing homes looking for medications to keep you or someone you love going. You can usually find a .pdf of this book for free online, but it’s always good to have a printed copy handy. Number one title on pretty much everyone’s list of medical reading.
Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid, 5th Edition – This book has been around a while. An excellent source of information. Many first aid manuals basically treat every situation with “…seek professional medical help immediately.” Well, yeah, that’s great when the power is on, the roads aren’t jammed with cars, and tracers aren’t crisscrossing the night like fireflies. This book addresses the notion that it might take a while before you can get to the emergency room. What makes this book so useful, in my opinion, is that the author recommends and lists out the contents of various ‘modules’ that make up a kit. For example, there’s a topical bandaging module (20 different items), Non-prescription oral medication module (ten items), etc, etc. If you like to have someone else make up a list for you of where to start when it comes to packing a kit, this is a good one. Even if you have your own ideas, the lists are an excellent starting point. A very useful book.
Medicine for the Outdoors: The Essential Guide to Emergency Medical Procedures and First Aid, 5e (Medicine for the Outdoors: The Essential Guide to First Aid &) – An excellent companion to, and possibly slightly better than, the previous text. This is a densely packed trove of information. Being more of an ‘outdoor adventure’ scenario-based book there’s plenty of stuff on the perils you run into camping (poison ivy, poison oak, bad mushrooms, altitude sickness, blisters, etc) but sometimes part of the apocalypse is going to , in fact, be like a long, drawn-out camping trip.
Surgical Knots and Suturing Techniques third edition – Unfortunately, when it isn’t like a camping trip, the apocalypse is going to look a lot like a cross between Mad Max and North Korea…plenty of violence with plenty of shortages of essentials. I’m a big fan of closing a wound with something that doesn’t involve needlecraft on my skin, but sometimes Dermabond and butterfly bandages just aren’t going to do it. This book gives you the basics on taking that surplus surgical kit you picked up at the gun show and actually using it. It’ll be a grim day when you need the info contained in this book, and the next one I list, but better to have it than not.
Ditch Medicine: Advanced Field Procedures For Emergencies – When you need the information in this book, you’re in a situation where it’s going to take a lot more than bandaids and aspirin to pull you through. This is another book that is not for the squeamish, but even if you are a bit sensitive to things like traumatic amputation and flaps of muscle and skin waving in the breeze you should force yourself to read through it anyway so you at least have some ideas of whats going on. It’s not pretty, but if nothing else it’ll make you think twice before doing something stupid that could get you maimed or injured.
The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 18th Edition – An excellent reference that covers just about everything that could go wrong in normal times. By that, I mean it doesn’t really cover things like gunshot wounds, radiation poisoning, or anthrax exposure. But for figuring out what that clicking noise in your wrist is, or what that thing growing between your toes is, this book is tops. Also an excellent, excellent text for familiarizing yourself with medical terms, body part nomenclature, nutrition and a few other things. It’s kinda like a Chilton manual for the human body.
Another great reference is Physicians’ Desk Reference 2011 (Physicians’ Desk Reference (Bookstore Version)) (you can sometimes get these free as doctor’s offices update them and discard the old ones. Another source for this book? Law firms that deal with malpractice.) If you’re doing the wrecked-ambulance-looted-pharmacy thing this book is going to go a long way towards making sure that those pills you grabbed are the right ones.
There are some other recommended texts that I haven’t gotten yet but that I’ve heard excellent things about. For now, these are the best books I have on the subject. I have several other books but they’re all on the same subject. However, much like how you should always consult more than one reloading manual when working up new loads for your gun, I have no problem with having three or four books on advanced first aid or medical treatments since there is no such thing as too much knowledge. (I lamost said ‘too much information’, but there is a difference between knowledge and information.) The information contained in these books is also handy in figuring out what you should stock up on for yourfirst aid kits and home medical kits.
Speaking of….there’s a school of thought that says you should never stock any medical supplies that you don’t know how to use. The idea is that if you have them, but don’t know how to use them, you may wind up using them and doing more harm than good. This is true, that is a possibility. But you know what else is also a possibility? That there will be talent (a doctor, a nurse, an EMT, a PA, etc.) who you’ll run into who does know how to use that stuff and can provide the talent if someone will supply them with the gear. Don’t think so? How many times do we read about car accidents, airline flights, and similar events where someone is hurt and a doctor or nurse happens to be nearby or passing by and offers aid? So, the way I see it, go ahead and stock things you don’t know how to use…just don’t use ‘em. Leave that for the folks with the talent (or for trading to the folks that need it.)