Tuesday, May 31, 2011


At the start of Jerome K. Jerome's hilarious “Three Men in a Boat” the narrator, “J”, describes a visit to the British Museum to read up on the treatment of a slight ailment. He makes the mistake of turning the page and quickly realizes that he has every disease in the book, with the exception of housemaid’s knee, up to and including zymosis. Similarly, shopping for a first-aid kit at www.rescue-essentials.com this week ended with our preparing for every type of major disaster imagined or real. Rest assured, team Red Thread is coming prepared. 
Noting that the three leading causes of death in the the tactical environment (wherever that is) is penetrating trauma with 60% extremity bleeding, 33% tension pneumothorax, 6% airway obstruction, the only sensible answer is a S.T.O.R.M. Operator IFAK pack. Fortunately it’s made to meet the demands of an austere environment as well and can be worn as a drop down leg rig leaving one's hands free to steer the car. No responder can do without a CAT tourniquet, but if that doesn’t work there’s Celox-A to control life-threatening bleeding from penetrating wounds (them again). We actually got some of this in case some pointy bit of automobile decides to penetrate something it shouldn’t. It better have legible instructions. 
Thus equipped for combat, wilderness, front and back country injuries, and eventual evacuation, it was simple matter of maxing out the credit card to ensure that every eventuality is covered. Fifty pounds of prevention to deliver several ounces of cure. And just in case that doesn't work or we're attacked by rabid Mongolian mongrels, we’re taking out air-evac insurance and carrying a SPOT with a nifty red Batphone button. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


What, you may well ask, makes you think that you have any hope of achieving this mad adventure? What qualifications do you have that distinguish you from say Scott of the Antarctic, Henry Hudson, or any of the other great explorers that had more ego than common sense? What makes you think that, like them, you won’t make a beeline to Valhalla and not Volgograd? Put that way, not much, frankly. But we’re working on it. 
To that end, Wilderness First Responder training took up most of last week for Mike and will continue on for most of the next. This 80 hour first aid training course run by the Wilderness Medical Institute, a part of NOLS, covers everything from patient assessment to creating splints from ski poles. Theoretical training complemented by practical scenarios takes the student from knowing nothing to a standard level of competency. Plus there’s buckets of fake blood, faux bruises, and victims hanging from trees. Is this training necessary? Hopefully not, but if the wilderness does indeed start an hour from ‘definitive care’, it seems like cheap insurance for the backwoods of Russia. When last in Mongolia Mike was thrown from a camel and there wasn’t a medic for at least a 150 kilometers. Luckily there wasn’t enough permanent damage to bring an end to the holiday or the fun. As Medical Officer for the Red Thread Mongolia team, the real trick will be making sure that Mike stays healthy, or at least conscious enough to bark orders. A first aid kit for both the car and its occupants seems in order. The good news is that duct tape can do double duty for both. Epoxy? Well, not so much.