September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, so for this week’s Free Resource Friday I’m sharing a free printable/pdf copy of Where There Is No Doctor!
Where There Is No Doctor is a health care handbook that was written for 3rd world countries. It was originally written in 1970 and has undergone multiple updates, has been translated into over 100 languages and has sold millions of copies. You can buy your own print copy of Where There Is No Doctor for just over $20, but they also offer it as PDF by chapters at the Herperian website, and several sites have it available for download in it’s entirety as a PDF online. I have this book downloaded onto a thumb drive and also loaded onto one of my used kindles. I don’t have it printed out because frankly, it’s too long. If I ever decide I want a hard copy, I will purchase the book from Amazon.
In a 1998 review, the British Medical Journal said:
Chances are that if you visited a remote district hospital in a developing country you would find a well thumbed copy of Where There is No Doctor in its library. The book is intended primarily for village health workers, but generations of doctors and medical missionaries who have worked in under-resourced communities globally will vouch for its value in providing concise reliable information
So why am I recommending a book meant for third world coutnries as one of my Free Resource Friday selections for National Emergency Preparedness Month?
Well, whenever large scale disasters occur, emergency services can become overwhelmed. Police, fire, EMS and even hospitals sometimes have to triage who and what kinds of problems to devote their resources too. Also, some emergencies and disasters literally cut you off from medical care–in a blizzard, ice storm, hurricane or wildfire you may be stuck at home for several days with no way to get to a doctor or for an EMT, nurse or doctor to get to you. Also, in the aftermath of a disaster such as flooding, we sometimes see public health issues with water and disease that normally don’t occur in this country. Where There Is No Doctor has information that can help you and your family in all these situations. You can evaluate what is going on, treat what you can, make informed decisions about whether to brave the situation to attempt to reach professional care and perhaps even prevent some problems before they occur.
Since this book was written for community health in third world countries, it is written very simply and with lots of pictures and diagrams to help explain. The initial portions may not be particularly useful–they talk about folk remedies and biases people have in many underdeveloped nations. But the segments on how to give medicine, how to evaluate a patient, basic hygiene, clean water, good nutrition and how to sterilize equipment are very informative.
The “First Aid” part starts in on Chapter 10. Fever, shock, loss of consciousness, nose bleeds, choking, drowning, basic CPR, bleeding, heat injuries, cold injuries, how to recognize infected wounds, various breaks/dislocations and more are all covered along with information on how to evaluate and treat each of the problems. Yes, sometimes the treatment is to give certain antibiotics or medicines if you have them or even to “get the person to medical care”.
I find this to be a valuable emergency resource is because the advice and procedures don’t assume that you have a lot of specialized health care equipment or pre-existing knowledge. For example, the section on sewing up a large laceration (after warning you only to try to close wounds that are very, very clean, less than 12 hours old, and aren’t made by bites) specifies to boil water and cool it for washing, then to use a needle and thread (with regular nylon or silk thread) and boiling that for 20 minutes. It then goes on to show diagrams of exactly how to sew the wound and how to make knots. It’s pretty thorough.
There is a section that covers common sicknesses–dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, colds, flu, stuffy noses, allergic reactions, asthma, coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, arthritis, back pain, and hernias etc. You can find plenty of other information in this 503 page book–how to sterilize water using the sun instead of boiling, how to build a latrine, how to deal with various skin problems, eye problems, mouth and teeth problems. . . even childbirth (don’t you hope THATS something you never have to deal with in the middle of an emergency?). The chapter on medical kits with recommendations for both home and village clinic should give you some things to think about for your own home medical kit.
All in all this is a great free resource to have on hand. We have several backup sources of power (battery, generator, inverter for the car etc) so I feel confident having this on hand for emergencies in electronic format because I know I can recharge my kindle quite a few times with the supplies I have on hand. Again–if you are concerned you could print out the pdf and put it in a binder or simply pay a bit more than $20 and get your own hard copy of Where There Is No Doctor.