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Episode 337

Emergency Medicine Where to Begin


Special Guest:

Dr. Joe Alton aka Dr. Bones

What would you do in a medical emergency without access to a hospital? One man, Dr. Joe Alton, aka Dr. Bones, has made answering this question his life’s passion. He and his wife, Nurse Amy, have made it their mission to put an emergency medical professional into every household. Today, Dr. Bones tells us where we can begin.

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When Dr. Joe Alton retired from his medical-surgical practice in Florida, his work didn’t end. It had just begun. When hurricane Andrew destroyed his neighborhood, Dr. Alton joined a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). More storms, natural disasters, and pandemics arose, and Dr. Alton realized there was a severe lack of disaster medical training in American society.

Doctors weren’t writing about disaster medicine. They couldn’t even fathom a situation without access to a western medical facility. They couldn’t dream of a situation where the need for medical assistance outweighed its availability. These doctors found out the hard way when covid hit. The fact is, there are events where life is lost because a medical emergency occurs at the same time as a natural disaster. Covid also showed society how fast society could break down in the event of a pandemic. The terrifying thing is that Covid had a 0.01% mortality rate. What would have happened to our communities if the disease was Ebola with a 40% mortality rate?

Shocked by the lack of information for the average person, Dr. Alton and Nurse Amy went to work writing about treating illnesses and injuries without modern medicines. He wanted to provide strategies that would prevent avoidable deaths. They are trying to put a medic in every family and create an army of emergency medics held in reserve.

Their book, Survival Medicine Hand Book, Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way, covers medical topics from beginning to end as if a disaster occurred and no help is available.

Medical Tip from Dr. Bones

The wound will spurt if you sustain a deep laceration with an arterial bleed. 1. Apply direct pressure. 2. Get a cloth and try to clear the blood so you can see where the spurting is located. On an extremity, the spurting will always come from the top. Use whatever you can to clamp it. 3. Apply pressure to both sides. 4. Use a bandana and tie it two inches above the laceration. Put a pen in front of the knot and tie another knot. Twist the pen until the bleeding stops, and then tie another knot to secure the pen. 5. Get the person to your injury room and begin stitching up the wound. (Directions found in Survival Medicine Hand Book, Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way).

As an author who writes fiction to entertain and educate, I was curious what books Dr. Alton has learned the most from while enjoying a great story. He warned me that the most educational novels are not always the most entertaining. With that in mind, here is a list of Dr. Alton’s most educational fiction novels:

Following a collapse, the most immediate medical threats involve the basics of survival: securing clean water, cooked food, and adequate shelter. These things don’t seem like medical items. However, without them, you will not have good health. The Ebola outbreak started when individuals ate partially cooked bats. Ten thousand deaths later, the problem was not a small one. More people died of diarrhea and dehydration than bullets during the civil war. Contaminated water and improperly cooked food will cause many avoidable deaths.

Beyond the basics, we can learn a lot from doctors tasked with providing services to patients in remote areas. These doctors working for doctors without borders must do their best to aid individuals with little more than a pack on their back. Here is a list of some of the problems one of these doctors encountered:

  • Minor muscular-skeletal injuries, including sprains and strains

  • Respiratory infections like colds and flues. How many decongestants do you buy every month? If you don’t treat symptoms at onset, they can become worse. The phlegm gets thicker and gets stuck in the bronchia until you eventually develop pneumonia.

  • Allergic reactions

  • Minor trauma like cuts and scrapes

  • Minor infections in the ears, eyes, and bladder.

  • Diarrheal disease

  • Dental issues – if there are no dentists available in a disaster that lasts longer than six months, you will need dental equipment. Ninety percent of dental emergencies in a long-term survival situation will result in extraction. It would be best to have an extractor to make sure you get the roots out, or they may become infected. You can buy a dental extraction kit from, and the Survival Medicine Hand Book, Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way, will show you how to use it.

  • Hyperthermia & hypothermia or exposure to heat and cold

  • Minor skin trauma

  • Skin rashes and burns

  • Birth control issues and women’s issues: In a survival situation, if you are female and you want to live, do not get pregnant. Pregnant women are not at peak efficiency. Pregnancy afflicts your body with aches and pains, nausea, bleeding, and pregnancy complications. Ten percent of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Even if the birth goes well, many problems like postpartum fevers can arise afterward. It sounds harsh to say that women should not get pregnant if they want to live. However, in the 1800s, a woman could expect to be pregnant about eight to ten times during a lifetime. Two percent of women died per pregnancy! If you plan on having a baby during a survival situation, you will need an OB kit available at

You will need an ample supply of medical items in a long-term survival situation. Items like antiseptics, dressings, bandages, burn gel, wound closure materials, blankets and sheets, antibiotics, pain medications, blood clotting agents, splints, and dental extractors.

Begin to prepare now! There’s a lot to learn and many materials to put together. Think outside the box and learn to improvise to survive—stock as many of these items as you can. Medical supplies make great barter items, but if you can use them to help people, the people of your community will defend your life at all costs.

The most threatening diseases that would be of immediate concern in a collapse scenario are mosquito-borne diseases like Yellow Fever and Malaria. Also, Cholera and other diarrheal diseases.

Filtering water works best for providing clean water. You should have a Sawyer Mini and a Lifestraw in your pack. Distillation works as well, but it requires a lot of equipment. It’s your job to ensure that you can easily provide an ample supply of drinkable water for your group to drink and use for cooking. Boiling water also works—boil water at a rolling boil for one minute. If you are 3,000m or higher, boil for three minutes.

In a disaster scenario, you will need a sick room. This room should be minimalist in nature with no fabric furniture. It should contain a simple work surface, exam surface, and a cot. Plastic sheeting for sick people will help with clean-up. Proper lighting and ventilation are also essential. This room should be a reasonable distance from the common areas of the living space. The sick room is not for injured people. You will need an injury room as well.

Starting from square one, you can jump-start your preps with premade kits from

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Dr. Joe Alton aka Dr. Bones

Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones, is an M.D.  and fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of OB/GYN. Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Nurse Amy, is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.  Together, they’re the authors of the #1 Amazon bestseller in Survival Skills and Safety/First Aid “The Survival Medicine Handbook”, well known speakers, podcasters, and YouTubers, as well as contributors to leading survival/homesteading magazines. You will find over 700 posts on medical preparedness on their website.



Their mission:  To put a medically prepared person in every family for disaster situations.

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