Our fellow blogger Mike MD might not see it this way, but I consider myself a ‘trail surgeon’. Let me paint the picture for you. We’ll call you LSP, for sake of convenience here on this blog, are out in the back of beyond, far from conventional transportation and the reach of cell phones. You were careless enough to venture out there without a sat phone and suddenly, you find yourself in medical distress. You have few options: (a) Crawl under a bush and wait for the valkyries to take you as you clutch your hunting knife to prove your worth to them; (b) You try and walk out, during which time you drop your knife and the valkyries will pass you by and you’ll end up in Hellheim (shudder); (c) You invite a amateur trail surgeon (that would be me) who packs a rusty knife, some parachute cord and a flask of Oh Be Joyful to assuage your pain, making use of his skills for your benefit. Now the plan takes shape for you. I can ‘practice’ medicine with the best frontier types, and may beat out these guys.

“For thousands of years, trepanation — the act of scraping, cutting, or drilling an opening into the cranium — was practiced around the world, primarily to treat head trauma, but possibly to quell headaches, seizures and mental illnesses, or even to expel perceived demons.”

Some of you may ask whether I could do a better job patching a wound than the French Foreign Legion barbers at Sidi Bel Abbes (North Africa) in the late 1800’s. Or whether I could keep up with the French Foreign Legion engineers (photo right).  The answer is, you bet your bippy I can. I also have an axe.
Sure, some of you wimps would opt for a tourniquet or quick clot and a wash down with beta dyne to keep the would clean. Some of you might even object to me taking a drink to steady my hand before I cut with the (razor sharp, but rusty) camp knife. But I also bring a copy of the Good Book in the event that I need to say a few words over the carcass before rolling it into a hole…that’s the kind of surgeon I am. RIP, and carry on.

17 COMMENTS

  1. You've had training. My youngest, the retired Army medic, has kept a lot of people alive. In a pinch, how about a veterinarian?

  2. Sawbones.

    All you gotta do is help the body get well on its own, which it will try its best to do.

  3. My son the EMT/wannabe Paramedic has helped us outfit ourselves with massive amounts of First Aid equipment.

    Although my cards have expired, I was trained to be a First Responder at two different employers, so I know how to use the stuff.

  4. You have been reading about the Incas, no?
    news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/05/080512-inca-skulls.html

  5. Nothing like a cordless drill and a hole saw for trepanning. Just don't use the "hammer drill" setting. And be careful how deep you set the pilot drill. If they were wearing a mask, these helpful tips can be ignored.

  6. Going new-fangled with a drill to crack open a skull is clearly a lot fancier than the Aztec and Inca practitioners of medicine.

  7. In a bad situation out in the middle of nowhere, a trail surgeon is what you need, not me.

    Different horses for different courses and all that. Get someone in extremis TO a tertiary/quaternary care hospital and we can do amazing things (about half of which should not be done, but that's just my opinion), but the skillset of stabilizing a person enough to GET to that high-tech medical mecca can be quite different from that of the sub-subspecialist who does his thing in a nice sterile environment with good lighting, the latest equipment, and tons of supplies.

    And I would note that the skill set of keeping a person alive and healing in a prolonged grid-down situation would be still different from both current emergency and hospital-based medicos. (Bottom line is that a lot of serious stuff that is survivable in this mostly intact society/medical system would not be if the "Bring CW2 on, I got my 'preps' and I got my M-forgery" types really get their wish.)

    Finally, that "we" in "we can do…" above is the we-as-a-profession "we". I'm not practicing clinical medicine — it's all research these days.

  8. One of the characteristics of an irregular unit, like the DLC (Dallas Light Cavalry) is that members perform multiple roles.

    For example, the DLC RHSM (Regimental Horse Sergeant Major) is also a TS (Trail Surgeon) and a VC (Vicar General), who can double down as a padre if the CO, also a padre, is taken down by a snake bite.

    That said, haven't seen a snake in a while. Famous last words…

  9. Just keep splashing around in that swamp that you're hauling lunkers out of and you'll find a snake.

    Have you trained the cadets to suck the venom out? (no, don't try that at home)

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