What is Courage?

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What is Courage?

What is Courage?

In the Parkland high school shooting in South Florida, just a few miles from my home, we saw the extremes of human fortitude in the persons of Coach Aaron Feis and Deputy Scot Peterson. Peterson, a trained security professional, stayed outside while a shooting was in progress in the area he was hired to defend. Feis, a man not charged with the safety of others, protected them with his body at the expense of his own life.

I have thought about the idea of courage often; my writings on disaster preparedness presuppose that a certain amount is necessary to be resilient in the face of adversity. Yet, can a person really know what they will do when faced with a decision that can cost them their life?

Some just naturally run towards the sound of gunfire, while others naturally run in the other direction. The Department of Homeland Security recommends going the other way in their “Run, Hide, Fight” triad for active shooter events. There are those, however, who will run towards danger. Many of these individuals are or were in the military, law enforcement, and fire/emergency services.

Examples might be hitting the beach on D-day, running into the World Trade Center on 9/11, or perhaps the nurse who ran into the building to help victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. In many of these instances, they knew they were in danger, but went above and beyond.

Rebecca Anderson, RN, died attempting rescue victims of the Oklahoma City bombing

Rebecca Anderson, RN, died attempting to rescue victims of the Oklahoma City bombing

Courage takes other forms as well. If you were, for example, the first African-American student in an all-white school district during the civil rights era or the first woman cadet in a military academy, you’ll never have to prove your bravery and determination to me in any other way.

You might think courage is an inborn virtue, constant over a lifetime. I’m not sure about that. I, personally, was a fearful little boy, then became a (stupidly) fearless teenager. I eventually morphed into an average adult. Now, in my golden years, I may have more of a tendency to head towards the sound of gunfire; after all, what have I got to lose at this point? Sit me in front of a doctor telling me that I have cancer, however, and that might be a very different story.

Then there’s the fortitude it takes to re-invent yourself. I don’t consider myself to be particularly courageous. After I retired from the active practice of medicine, I was tempted to take up golf. It was something I had tried years before but was, frankly, terrible at. Instead, I decided, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to write a blog about preparedness. That led to writing books, podcasts, a YouTube channel, and an entirely different career all about teaching others to survive natural or man-made disasters.

It’s hard to teach courage, but you can foster motivation in people. If people are taught the importance of something, they might be more apt to defend it. Loving something deeply also gives you the motivation to be brave in its defense. I can’t think of something more important than the lives of our young people. Coach Feis realized this, and acted accordingly.

Is courage contagious? Fear certainly is. If 50 people around you drop to the floor at the sound of gunfire, you might do the same. If those same people run towards the sound of gunfire, you might, too, although it puts you at risk. You might consider this foolhardiness rather than courage (Homeland Security does), but, where a gunman is concerned, you’re more likely to stop the killing by doing something other than laying on the floor in plain sight.

many founding fathers lost their entire fortune by their decision to support the patriot cause

many founding fathers lost their entire fortune and some their lives by their decision to support the patriot cause

Speaking of fear, courage is not the absence of it, but. rather, the overcoming of it. There is physical courage and there is moral courage. Our founding fathers were men of wealth and privilege, and it would have been very easy to support remaining a colony of England. But they realized the importance of freedom, and put their fates and fortunes on the line to bring forth a new nation.

Activism is a form of courage, but courage is not just the act of speaking up; sometimes, shutting up and listening to opposing viewpoints takes fortitude as well. If more people would sit down and listen to each other, we might come more easily to agreement on a lot of today’s controversies. This takes more courage than keeping a closed mind.

If we are to be resilient in the face of adversity, it is courage, above all other virtues, that will make it possible. If we are to survive as a society, it will be because of the fortitude and strength of our citizens to pick up the flag, so to speak, and move forward. That goes for active shooter incidents and it goes for every obstacle you face in life.

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD

Find out more about disaster and medical preparedness with the award-winning Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way.

Who Was Our First President? No, Really.

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john hanson

President John Hanson


It’s Presidents’ Day in the U.S., and we celebrate the 44 men who have held the office, beginning with George Washington.  However, was George Washington really the first President?  Seems like the simplest question that even a child could answer, but it’s not exactly as clear-cut as you’d think.

(As an aside, Donald Trump is the 45th president, but the 44rd man to hold the office, as Grover Cleveland’s two terms were not consecutive, making him both the 21st and 23rd President.)

The United States declared its independence in 1776, but George Washington didn’t take office until 1789!  So who was in charge of running  the country until then?  Naysayers say no one, but there were a number of patriots who had the title of president.  The big question is, president of what?

There were a number of Presidents of the Continental Congress, beginning with the man who signed his name in large script, John Hancock.  But were the thirteen colonies now one country on July 4, 1776?  Not officially.  It wasn’t until the Articles of Confederation were signed in 1781 that we could say that the thirteen colonies were a new unified nation, the United States of America.

The first man elected president under the Articles of Confederation (who didn’t resign immediately, at least) was one John Hanson of Frederick County, Maryland.  Who?

Like many of our Founding Fathers, John Hanson (and the eight men who served as President after him) have been relegated to the dustbin of history.  Many prominent patriots don’t have statues  dedicated to them in Washington, D.C.   In fact, a lot of them died penniless and uncelebrated.  For more info, see my article:

Fate of the Forgotten Founding Fathers

Once the signing of the Articles of Confederation took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country. John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). As the first President, Hanson had quite the shoes to fill. No one had ever been President of the United States; the responsibilities were vague and ill-defined, but there were issues to be settled.

As the war for independence wound down, continental troops were demanding back salaries. Many of them were not in favor of the new government and even considered installing George Washington as King.  John Hanson was responsible for quelling this discontent and held the rickety congress together.

Hanson is also responsible for ejecting foreign troops out of the new country.  This wasn’t easy, as many of our allies felt they had a claim to special privileges due to their aid for the American cause.  Among other things, he also established the Treasury, War, and Foreign Affairs departments.  All of this in a term of office that lasted only one year.

After him, the following men were elected as President of congress:

  • Elias Boudinot   1782-3
  • Thomas Mifflin 1783-4
  • Richard Henry Lee 1784-5
  • John Hancock 1785-6 (elected but could not serve due to illness)
  • Dr. David Ramsay (Nov 23, 1785 – May 12, 1786)
  • Nathaniel Gorham (May 15, 1786-Nov. 5, 1786)
  • Arthur St. Clair 1787-8
  • Cyrus Griffin 1788-9

So why don’t we recognize these patriots as our first Presidents?  Because we didn’t yet have a constitution that gave the federal government any significant power.  As such, they served as President of Congress more than as leader of a united country.

Therefore, George Washington was the first president to serve under a firm constitution that established the United States that we know today. The first 9 presidents?  They have faded into history, but let’s not forget their service to a fragile new entity that became a great nation.

Joe Alton, M.D.


Joe Alton, M.D.

You won’t learn about American presidents in the third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, but you’ll learn a lot about how to deal with medical issues in disasters and epidemics!

13 Tips on Surviving a Protest

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closed fist protest

Anti-Free Speech?

As a Free Speech advocate, I support the people’s right to protest and make their opinions heard. Unfortunately, demonstrations in the U.S. these days are becoming more frequent and violent. From what I saw happen at UC-Berkeley, I expect them to become more extreme as times goes on.

I haven’t been at a protest since the Vietnam era, and that was just on the way to class. Back then, I was fit enough to hightail it out of there when the pepper gas flew. However, there is so much civil unrest in the news these days that it’s a good idea to have a riot survival strategy, whether you’re involved or just a bystander. It goes without saying that your objective should be to stay away from the where the violence is occurring.

Of course, if you walk smack dab into a demonstration, things can get dicey pretty fast. I’ve written a lot about situational awareness, and that mindset will serve you well. Here are some simple tips that will help you avoid injury at a protest:

1. Always be in a state of “Yellow Alert”. Yellow alert simply means being aware of your surroundings and the people around you. When people are behaving strangely, take note and avoid them.
2. Always mentally map out routes of escape as you walk along. Where’s the nearest side street? Is there a building or subway entrance that will get you off the street? If you don’t know the area, move away to where you know the lay of the land.

3. If you have to make your way through the crowd, stay on the fringes. Don’t get caught in the masses of people surging away (or towards) the violence. If you do, they are deciding your movements, not you.

4. Avoid confrontation with protesters. In other words, take off your “Make American Great Again” hat if it’s an anti-Trump demonstration. At Berkeley, things like this got women pepper-sprayed and men beaten.

5. Have a bandanna handy. This essential survival supply isn’t a gas mask, per se, but it works at riots when tear gas is sprayed. Some advocate the soaking of the cloth with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Avoid black bandannas, though; at Berkeley, organized masked “ninjas” in black caused most of the damage. You don’t want to be confused with one of these people.

6. Wear sneakers or other footwear that will allow you the most mobility. The only women wearing heals are reporters. Make sure you’re well-clothed so that your skin is protected. You’ll need to wash clothes thoroughly that have been exposed to tear gas, or throw them away.

7. Be aware of the movement of law enforcement officers, but don’t approach them. Their job is tough enough, and they won’t be able to hear you above the roar of the crowd.

8. Don’t run if you can help it. Unless everyone else is running, you will attract unwanted attention. Walk fast and purposefully around a corner, to higher ground, or other safe spot.

9. Be inconspicuous. This may be difficult if you’re 6 foot 7 inches tall, but otherwise, do you best to be “the gray man”.

10. If you’re with friends, stay together. If you can’t, agree on a meeting place beforehand in case you get separated moving through the crowd.

11. Avoid being caught against walls, fences, blockades, or other solid objects. People can get crushed by masses of protesters.

12. Carry some water, milk, or diluted liquid antacid (like Maalox) in a container if you know you’re heading into a protest area. If sprayed with tear gas, move quickly into an area of fresh air and pour the liquid on your face (especially your eyes). Drink it if sprayed in the mouth. Milk or liquid antacid are thought by some to work better than water, but there’s no hard data one way or another. The effects of the tear gas will resolve over a relatively short time in most cases.

13. If you’re involved in a protest, carry a basic medical kit that will help to treat injuries and stop bleeding.

It’s likely you’ll never get caught in civil unrest, but having a solid plan of action in these troubled times just makes common sense. We must be prepared for man-made disasters just as we should be prepared for hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.


Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones

The Coming Bee-Pocalypse?

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dead bees

dead bees

You may or may not be an environmentalist, but a part of nature that everyone should support is the honeybee. It’s thought that every third bite of food that you take is there because of pollination by bees. Honey, when raw and unprocessed, is a versatile product that may even be used as a wound covering for burns and other injuries.

In the last decade, bee colonies are reported to be experiencing die-offs that have taken out a significant percentage of all the colonies in certain areas.  I found this alarming, but a review of recent articles, however, revealed this idea to be a matter of debate. Opinions on the state of the bee nation seem to go along with the political bent of the author; if you’re liberal, the “bee-pocalypse” has arrived; if you’re conservative, bees are thriving and it’s all a bunch of “junk science”. Which do you “bee-lieve”?

As a conservative environmentalist (am I the only one?), it’s all pretty confusing. I tend to think that bees, like a lot of critters in today’s densely populated world, are in trouble, and there are multiple factors to blame. Some of these factors are, indeed, due to human actions.

These actions could be very isolated, like the truck that overturned in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, taking out most of the 430 beehives that were being transported to farming areas without enough pollinators (a question: Why is this a thriving business if there are plenty of bees?).

Human actions may be more coordinated, however, than  a truck overturning. Our growing concerns about the Zika, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne viruses have led to the institution of mosquito control programs in many towns and cities in the U.S. One effective means of eliminating adult mosquitoes is aerial spraying with an organophosphate pesticide called Naled. Unfortunately, the use of Naled has caused collateral damage to many beneficial insects; the honeybee is one of them.

A recent series of aerial sprayings in Dorchester County, South Carolina, has killed millions of bees. Although relatively short acting, Naled is lethal to bees and daytime spraying has decimated the local population of these important pollinators. The chemical is not meant to be used between sunrise and sunset, when bees are out foraging. It seems the Dorchester County officials didn’t read the directions.

The inappropriate timing of the pesticide spraying has “nuked” the colonies of many Dorchester County beekeepers. Dead worker bees were found in large clumps at hive entrances; one beekeeper lost 46 hives.

Although the county claims to have given advisories of the spraying via email, many local beekeepers claim they didn’t receive the notice. Mosquito control is normally conducted by trucks in the county, and the aerial sprayings came as a (very bad) surprise. With warning, the beekeepers could have shielded the hives.

All this is happening at a time when another pesticide used to control pests is (apparently, another controversial statement) devastating bee populations in other areas.

Here’s a story that was reported some time ago: Customers at an Oregon Target store arrived to see tens of thousands of dead and dying bumblebees in the parking lot.

An investigation the day before revealed that a pest-control company had sprayed insecticide on surrounding trees due to an aphid infestation. Of course, bees don’t read warning signs and 300 colonies were destroyed. That’s a lot of lost pollinators.

The pesticide used is known as a neonicotinoid, popularly called a “neonic”. It was developed by Bayer a decade ago and differs from other pesticides, like organophosphates, in that they clear from the air a lot slower.

Many crops are treated with neonics. The chemical works like this: once sprayed on the plant, it is absorbed by the plant’s vascular system. This makes it poisonous to bugs that eat the leaves, nectar, or pollen. Sometimes the soil is treated as well, with the same absorption effect that makes it deadly to pests. Unfortunately, it’s kills good insects, as well.

When a Bayer neonic doesn’t kill a bee, it can damage its immune system and even affect its ability to navigate. It becomes lost and can’t find the hive. This phenomenon is sometimes known as “Colony Collapse Disorder” and it appears as if the bees have magically disappeared. Although not proven to be the cause in all cases, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to implicate the pesticide as a factor.

Now, a new study indicates that neonics harm drone bees’ sperm, killing close to 40 per cent and causing a condition called “queen failure”. A queen failure is when queen bees fail to have live offspring. A queen failure is a hive failure.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons that a hive can fail. Parasites, disease, and many other factors may come into play besides chemical pesticides. But given the stress that our nation’s bee population is already under, what will be the straw that breaks the (bee’s) camel’s back?

To be banned, a chemical has to be proven dangerous in the U.S. Although Bayer is a German company, you might be interested to know that, at present, you can’t use neonics in Germany. Too dangerous. In the U.S., however, neonics are widely used and the bees pay the price.

Some areas in the U.S. are taking action. Eugene, Oregon has forbidden the use of this pesticide and the state of Maryland has followed with a ban to begin in 2018. Environmentalists urge action by the federal government to ban neonicotinoids and mandate wiser use of organophosphates like Naled (following the directions would be a good start).  Meanwhile, others are complaining, even in Europe, of pests invading crops and want freer use of neonic and other pesticides.

Our bees are an important natural resource, not just for beekeepers, but for farmers and for all Americans. If you’re a consumer, you should be invested in this fight regardless of your political stripes. I’d like to Save the Whales, but it’s just as or more important to save the bees.

Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

The brand new Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” is now available at Amazon.com! It’s the essential guide for disasters and epidemics when help isn’t on the way.


American Survival Radio, July 2

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In this episode of American Survival Radio, Joe and Amy Alton tackle the issue of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism isn’t what it was, a healthy respect for the traditions and values of others, but has morphed into a mandate to accept even barbaric customs like female genital mutilation as morally equivalent to Western values. Barbarism is not the moral equal of civilization, folks. Also, things are starting to steamroll in Brazil as issues of security and financial collapse are added to the ongoing Zika epidemic in Rio de Janeiro, the city that’s hosting the summer Olympics this year. Police and hospital personnel aren’t getting paid, and that could be even more hazardous to your health than the Zika infection.

Plus, Future Dan from futuredanger.com joins the Altons to discuss his new Drudge Report-like website gives indicator levels to articles that might become a peril to America’s Survival! All this and more on American Survival Radio #15!

Joe and Amy Alton


American Survival Radio, June 25

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American Survival Radio is Joe and Amy Alton’s second and latest podcast, focused on current events, health, and politics. It is separate and distinct from The Survival Medicine Hour, which continues as before focused mostly on health issues as they pertain to preparedness and survival.  If you’re interested in Survival, your own and that of your country, we bet you’ll like both!

In this episode of American Survival Radio, Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP discuss the issues of the day, which seems to include terror events and active shooters more and more as time goes on. Of course, with that, the political battle over gun control rages while, perhaps, the discussion over how to make Americans more difficult targets gets ignored. Plus, the state of California”s lawmakers pass a bill to allow Obamacare to be offered to undocumented immigrants, something President Obama himself had guaranteed repeatedly would NOT happen. Listen to how California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) found a loophole in the law, and how, unless, they find funds to pay the premiums for these immigrants , Obamacare is still going to be unaffordable to most even if offered.

On the natural disaster front, a deadly heat wave in the West is causing problems for the 3500 firefighters trying to control multiple wildfires in the area. Yes, a heat wave is a natural disaster: A major one in 2003 on the European continent killed tens of thousands of people. Joe and Amy Alton tell you how to stay safe in the hottest weather. All this and more in American Survival Radio #14!

American Survival Radio

The Altons

Orlando Shootings: More To Come, What To Do

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active shooter

Active Shooters: What to Do

In the sad aftermath of the Orlando shootings that killed or injured more than 100 people, it has become clear to me that we’re in for a rough ride for the foreseeable future.

You might think that the “success” achieved by Omar Mateen in executing his terror event was a fluke. The sheer number of casualties was the most ever on American soil. The complexities of Mr. Mateen’s relationship with the community, having apparently visited the PULSE nightclub on multiple occasions, must make this a rare circumstance, right? Wrong.


Pulse Nightclub, Wikipedia

The shooter’s assessment of his target as being a “soft” one was deadly accurate. A crowded venue, maybe all in one large room with limited exits, some allegedly padlocked. At 2 o’clock in the morning, many club goers must have had some drinks, and weren’t exactly in a condition to be situationally aware. Likely, no one was armed. It was a massacre and, worse, a blueprint for massacres to come.

Those who support Mr. Mateen’s philosophy will look at this event and marvel at how much damage a single gunman can do. This can only encourage others of like mind to do the same. How many nightclubs are there, gay or straight, that’ll be crowded on a Saturday night in the average city? How many club goers will be ready for the next gunman? How many establishments will act to boost security in the face of this horrible tragedy? I’ve answered these questions myself, and I am saddened.

The Islamic State giving credit to this terrorist will seem like a badge of honor to those who wish us harm. They see cowardly acts as courageous. They see mayhem as morality. They know that most Americans have gone soft, and that’s a hard truth.

We now know that mass shootings can occur anywhere, anytime. They can occur in churches, schools, nightclubs, and at holiday parties. They can occur at 2 in the morning and they can occur in the middle of the day. What would be your response if confronted?

The natural response for most people is to do nothing. You’ve heard me talk about “normalcy bias” before. That’s the tendency for people to believe everything follows a pattern and that the day will proceed normally because it always has. When a terrorist event breaks that pattern, however,  the unprepared brain takes time to process the new situation. People will think that the sound of gunfire is fireworks, or anything less threatening than an assassin out to kill them.

A person without a plan of action typically follows the herd. If fifty people around you drop to the floor, your natural tendency is to do the same. Cowering in fear under a table in plain view of the shooter isn’t a recipe for a good outcome. But having a plan will give you a better chance of getting out of there in one piece.

During an active shooter event, what you do in the first few seconds may determine whether you live or die. Give yourself a head start by always knowing what’s happening around you. We call this situational awareness. Know where exits are. Know where the gunshots are coming from. Know who appears nervous or suspicious in your immediate area.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But in this era of people immersed in their smartphones, few are situationally aware and become easy targets for the active shooter.

Run, Hide, Fight

run hide fight

If you find yourself in the middle of a terrorist event, you should remember these three words: Run, Hide, Fight. Just as “Stop, Drop, and Roll” can save the life of someone on fire, Run, Hide, Fight might save the life of someone under fire. This is the order of the actions that you should be taking in an active shooter scenario.


Most people will hide as their first course of action. You, however, should run away from the direction of gunfire immediately, leaving through those exits you’ve been mentally marking. This will make it less likely you and the shooter will cross paths. Forget about collecting your stuff, it will only slow you down and, let’s face it, it’s just stuff.

A kind of paralysis may occur when you first realize what’s happening. This is normal, but running away from the shooter increases your distance from them, and makes it difficult for them to hit a moving target.

A good citizen would yell for others to follow and prevent others from entering the kill zone. Don’t try to move or otherwise help the wounded, however. You have to get out of there; becoming the next casualty does no one any good. Even the police will leave the injured for after the shooter has been neutralized.

(One very important note: If you see law enforcement, don’t run up and hug them. Get your hands in the air, fingers spread, where officers can see them. They need to know you’re not the threat. Follow any instructions given and leave in the directions the officer came from.)

Once you’re in a safe area, call 911 if rescuers have not yet arrived.



If there’s only one exit and the shooter is standing in front of it, running might not be an option. Your next choice is hiding.

You have to get out of the shooter’s line of sight, but hiding under a table in the same room as the shooter is a very bad idea. Get into another room, preferably one with a door you can lock. If there is no lock, put together a barrier with desks and chairs. Turn off the lights, silence your cell phone, and stay quiet behind an additional barrier like a table or in a closet. If you can quietly alert authorities, do so.

By accomplishing the above, you’ve just made yourself a harder target to acquire for the shooter, and he wants to do his damage as fast as possible. He’ll likely pass you by to find easier targets.



What if you can’t run, and there is no reasonable hiding place? You just might have to fight your way out of there. This strategy isn’t always doomed to failure. You still might be able to drop an attacker even if unarmed. Three unarmed men were able to do it to a shooter on a train in Paris. It’s a last resort, but it can work; it did there.

If you don’t fight, the shooter will have a clear shot to your head and death is likely. If you fight, you’ll be harder to hit with a fatal shot. Any type of aggression against the gunman would disrupt their “flow” and possibly put you at an advantage. If you can, approach him from the side or rear, and go for his weapon.

If you have help, all should attack at the same time from different directions while hurling objects that he has to dodge. At the PULSE nightclub, there were probably drinking glasses and bottles handy, not to mention hundreds of cell phones.  The gunman is probably not James Bond: he’ll duck or flinch and not be able to handle multiple threats at once. Imagine a half-dozen people charging you while throwing stuff at your head. Makes for a pretty nervous terrorist, I’d say.

If you’ve disrupted the shooter or, better, gotten the weapon out of his hands, inflict damage on him until he is out of the fight. Tough, I’ll admit, but these are tough times; commit to your actions.

Luckily, few people will find themselves in the midst of a terrorist attack like the one in Orlando, but you can bet more are coming. Having a plan for active shooter situations is galling to some, but it’s part of life in the New Normal. Those who are prepared will have a better chance to survive terror events and many other disasters in the uncertain future.

Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about what you can in active shooter situations in our brand new Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook.

Cancel or Move The Olympics

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image by pixabay.com

A letter signed by 150 doctors and scientists has called for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to be moved or delayed due to the Zika virus. Rio is in the heart of the current epidemic.

Calling inaction “irresponsible” and “unethical”, the letter suggests that the Zika virus in Brazil is acting differently than it has in other areas, something I suggested may relate to a mutation in a recent article.

So make it 151 doctors and scientists. In my opinion, sending a half million tourists, not to mention athletes, to the  epicenter of a raging epidemic is, to say least, a bad idea. They’ll come from 170 different countries, get bitten by mosquitoes in Brazil, and head back home to have local mosquitoes spread the poorly-understood virus throughout the world.

Several hundred cases in U.S. citizens returning from the epidemic zone have been identified so far. Since 80 per cent of victims don’t experience symptoms, that means thousands of Americans have likely been infected.


There are 160 pregnant U.S. women among the group that has been diagnosed with the virus. Zika is known to be related to thousands of cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that prevents normal head growth. Brain development suffers as a result.

The fact that many Zika victims have no symptoms means that other women won’t know they had the virus until a sonogram identifies abnormal growth in their fetus. Zika is also associated with higher rates of Guillain-Barre and other nervous system disorders, some of which can be life-threatening.

The Olympics have been canceled five times in the last century, but this was due to world wars, not due to public health issues. As such, the International Olympic Committee, and worse, the World Health Organization, still claim that the Olympics will be safe and “enjoyable”.

Brazil, despite mobilizing most of its military to deal with mosquito control, has hardly been able to get a handle on the epidemic and is behind on putting together some of the infrastructure for the Games, including a metro line that takes visitors to the venues.

Despite this, the government is adamant about continuing, stating that calling off the Olympics would mean stopping half-finished buildings, canceling contracts, and refunding ticket fees. Brazil is thought to have sunk about 20 billion dollars into the Games so far.


In the meantime, the CDC is expecting clusters of Zika cases to be locally transmitted in the U.S. this summer, while stopping short of predicting an epidemic. Director of the National Institute of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the CDC is “stealing from itself” to fund Zika efforts here, taking money from funds meant to combat influenza and other infectious diseases that hit America. Congress and the Obama administration have disagreed on the amount of money that should go to Zika research and mosquito control, delaying what might be vital funding.

Delaying the Olympics is not the answer. It’s being held during the “winter” in Southern Hemisphere Brazil, when mosquitoes might be less active. Delaying it just puts in warmer seasons when mosquitoes will be out in force.

So cancel or move the Olympics. I’ll bet there’s a lot of countries that are under-utilizing the expensive venues they built for previous Olympics. Make the event truly global by having it in a number of countries instead of having it be one big commercial of a particular one. To have a massive sporting event in the middle of an epidemic zone is just plain unethical, if not downright crazy.


Joe Alton, MD

Find out all you need to know about Zika virus with Dr.  Alton’s latest book “The Zika Virus Handbook“, available on Amazon.

The Zika Virus Handbook, by Joseph Alton, MD

The Zika Virus Handbook, by Joseph Alton, MD


American Survival Radio #6

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Would NATO defend if provoked?


American Survival Radio is Joe and Amy Alton’s second and latest podcast, focused on current events, health, and politics. It is separate and distinct from The Survival Medicine Hour. If you’re interested in Survival, you’ll like both!

On American Survival Radio #6, Joe and Amy Alton explore what would happen if Russia uses its ingenious brand of hybrid warfare on a Baltic state like Estonia. Estonia’s a member of NATO, but would the North Atlantic Treaty Organization come to the defense of a member state? The answer isn’t that clear. Also, a new prediction system for tornadoes may give a little more warning and save some lives…if it works. How can you survive if you find yourself in the crosshairs of a twister? Plus, why don’t people with admirable characters run for President or other high office anymore, leaving us with candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?  All this and more on American Survival Radio!

To listen in, Click below:



Joe and Amy Alton

American Survival Radio

The New 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, Reducing Hemorrhage?

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cover celox with roller gauze

Given the spate of bombings and shootings throughout the world, most recently in Brussels but also in Paris and San Bernardino, we now realize that mass casualty incidents (also called MCIs) are becoming part of the “New Normal”. A mass casualty incident is any event in which the medical resources available are inadequate for the number and severity of injuries incurred.


Look at images of any terrorist attack, and you’ll see a lot of blood. These events tend to be over very quickly, but during that time, death from bleeding wounds can easily occur.


In a world where high level medical care is just minutes away, we have become secure in the notion that help is forthcoming. Unfortunately, it is rarely immediately at hand; the actions of individuals at the scene may make the difference between life and death. If aid isn’t administered in the first few minutes, hemorrhage can be fatal. In a mass casualty incident, the sheer number of those needing help could overwhelm the ability to attend to them.


Despite the urgency of the situation, law enforcement is taught not to approach the wounded until it is clear the threat has been neutralized. This is actually a wise move that avoids additional casualties, but adds a delay that may cost the wounded their lives. Therefore, the quick action needed may have to come from those involved but uninjured in the event. Of course, even these individuals should beware of continued hostile action before they rush to help.


How many know exactly how to stop a major hemorrhage? Just a few. Only those in the medical field or who take First Responder classes have been taught basic techniques, such as how to use a tourniquet. But although you can find fire extinguishers on the wall, there are no medical kits readily available to help these Good Samaritans. Is it time to have these items on the wall (in emergency, break glass?) and to teach bleeding control as a subject in school and workplaces? As horrible as this sounds, It’s possible we have reached that point.


Disasters occur regularly, not just terrorist events but natural disasters such as tornadoes, as well. If hemorrhage control first aid were a part of the curriculum, would it make a difference? Imagine a community full of people who learned to deal with injuries during their school years. Would there be lives saved, even if just by a witness to a car accident? How many lives would have to be saved for such a subject to be worthwhile to teach?


Bleeding Control Kit


Also, is it time for basic medical kits to be placed in every teacher’s desk, workplace, and mall? Would it make people uncomfortable to see them? Probably as much as when you see a fire extinguisher.


Certainly, such a first aid course in schools would not be for kindergarteners, but for teenagers and teachers. Videos and demonstrations would be important to desensitize students to the topic. Of course, parents who are concerned that their child would be traumatized emotionally would protest. Perhaps, however, those who underwent the training might become a little imbued with sterner stuff than our current crop of college students, who cry out in anguish when their safe spaces are invaded.


These are hard times, and they come with hard realities. You might choose to live in denial of the “New Normal”, but I think you’d be grateful if the life of a loved one was saved by someone who learned Reading, ‘Riting, and Reduce hemorrhage.


Joe Alton, MD

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