Can We End Active Shooter Events?

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Can we end active shooter events?

active shooters part of the New Normal?

active shooters part of the New Normal?

A mentally disturbed man entered a South Florida high school and killed at least 17 people with an AR-15 rifle. Nikolas Cruz was expelled from the school for erratic and violent behavior and was reported to have an obsession with guns. Social media posts were also thought to be “disturbing”. At present, at least a dozen people are still in the hospital, some in critical condition.

The recent shootings in diverse settings greet Americans with tragic news on a regular basis. Schools, churches, concerts, and other public venues are now fair game for those with bad intentions. Armed not only with weapons but with a blueprint from previous incidents, gunmen identify soft targets more and more easily and are more “successful” in achieving their goal of creating mass casualties.

Mass shootings are considered to be something that happens elsewhere, not your home town. This time, however, the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High occurred just a few miles from our house. There’s no reason to believe your area is immune.

There is no place safe from the deranged, disgruntled, or politically-motivated. The number of vehicular attacks, bombings, and shootings indicate that these events have become part of the “New Normal”. Should we just get used to them?

You might think that the “successes” achieved of late by active shooters occur at random. The increase in the sheer number of casualties, however, reveal a strategy that is being refined, and to deadly effect.

The selection of soft targets is becoming a science, and is leading to higher numbers of deaths and injuries. In the South Florida school shooting, for example, the gunman activated the fire alarm to make sure there would be a wealth of targets in the hall. To create confusion, he tossed smoke bombs (but prudently wore a gas mask).

If the ill-intentioned are now that much better at creating mayhem, it stands to reason that our society must become better at thwarting those intentions. Here are ways that would, in my opinion, decrease the number of shooter incidents and the deaths caused by them:

Improve security in areas at risk. I would define an “area at risk” as just about anywhere where a crowd of people would gather. Better protection at malls may just be a matter of hiring more trained personnel, but establishing and training a safety team in other places, such as a church, school, or workplace, can increase the level of vigilance and identify threats early.

Establish volunteer safety officers in rural areas and small towns where there may not be law enforcement and emergency medical personnel just around the corner. These persons should have training in security, firearms, and first aid for bleeding wounds. If there are volunteer fire departments, while not trained volunteer safety departments?

Instill a culture of situational awareness in our society. Situational awareness is a state of calm, relaxed observation of factors that might indicate a threat. These are called “anomalies”; learning to recognize them can identify suspicious individuals and save lives.

Situational awareness also involves always having a plan of action when a threat occurs, even if it’s as simple as making a note of the nearest exit at a concert. Seems like common sense, but in these days of smartphone distractions, many are oblivious of their surroundings.

Learn how to stop bleeding in wounds

Learn how to stop bleeding in emergencies

Teach our citizens to avoid the natural paralysis that occurs in an unexpected event. This paralysis occurs as a result of “normalcy bias”, the tendency to discount risks because most days proceed in a certain standard manner; we assume that today will be the same.

By teaching simple courses of action such as the Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide, Fight” triad, the decision-making process may be more intuitive and more rapidly implemented. This is more effectively taught and ingrained at a young age.

Teach our students simple first aid strategies to stop bleeding, the most likely cause of death in these scenarios. Rapid action by bystanders is thought to decrease the number of deaths from hemorrhage. Add “Reduce” hemorrhage to “Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic” as part of school curriculum, and lives might be saved.

Identify persons of interest through their social media posts. Many active shooters are vocal about their intentions. You might be concerned about “big brother” monitoring our public conversations on Facebook and other sites, but you must answer this question:  How many deaths are you willing to accept in your community due to a lack of vigilance?

We must always be on the lookout for signs of trouble. Even if this drives some potential gunmen underground, it might identify others in time to abort their mission. As such, each municipality must set a mechanism (and a trigger) for the authorities to apprehend and interrogate suspicious characters.

SWAT tourniquet

Simple kits can be effective in the hands of Good Samaritans

Provide first aid kits for bleeding in public venues that can be accessed by those at the scene. With supplies, the Good Samaritan will be more likely to save a life. I predict that these kits will be fixtures on the wall next to the fire extinguisher in the uncertain future. Although you might consider it overkill, putting a tourniquet in your high school student’s backpack (and teaching them how to use it) may not be a bad idea.

Despite the above recommendations, our response as a nation has been to do little to correct the problem. I say that era must end. Let’s stop being “soft” targets. We must forsake the notion that shootings are just part and parcel of the New Normal, and begin the process by which we change our attitude and level of vigilance, not in isolated cases, but as a society.

You don’t have to be a Department of Homeland Security official to know that there are more active shooter events on the horizon. A prepared nation wouldn’t be invulnerable to attacks, but its citizens would have a better chance to survive them.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

 

Medical kits to stop bleeding are good items to have in these uncertain times. Check out kits specially designed by us for workplaces, schools, places of worship, and other public venues that might save a life in these troubled times.

multi-person bleeding kit

multi-person bleeding kit

Civil Defense In The Uncertain Future

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WHY DON’T WE HAVE A CIVIL DEFENSE STRATEGY FOR NUCLEAR ATTACKS?

ICBM launch

ICBM launch

With nuclear buttons on more and more desks these days, one thing that’s clear is that the future is anything but. With trials, tribulations, and rogue nations all about, even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned about preparedness in the face of a nuclear threat.

As such, the CDC is planning a teaching session about nuclear war after officials took part in radiation drills last Spring. This time, they are planning to target medical professionals, including veterinarians, and the local agencies that would lead immediate responses to a nuclear event.

The Jan. 16 event, titled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation“, is thought by many to be in response to recent saber-rattling by North Korea and other countries with interests in the region (including the US).

This from the CDC: “Despite the fear surrounding [a nuclear] event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation.” (more on why later in this article)

NUCLEAR ATTACKS

exploding nuclear blast from the ground with a fireball explosion up into the sky

Nuclear blast

The classic image of a nuclear attack is the detonation of a nuclear bomb on a heavily populated city, as was done to Japanese cities during World War II. The age of long-range bombers approaching a country’s air space with intents to drop the Big One may be over, but nuclear submarines and container ships have the capability to launch missiles with much shorter notice.

In addition to the classic image of cities demolished by nuclear explosions, there is the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse event (EMP) caused by a nuclear detonation high up in the atmosphere. This wouldn’t cause massive devastation (at first), but could knock out the electrical grid we depend on for just about everything. In short order, the citizens would be causing the massive devastation as food becomes unavailable and the rule of law collapses.

CAN YOU SURVIVE?

Stay in place or hit the road?

Stay in place or hit the road?

You might consider a nuclear attack to be hazardous to your health. Indeed, if anywhere near ground zero, you’re probably right. However, a suburbanite’s chances of surviving a blast that hits downtown might be better than you think.

In Shane Connor’s excellent article “The Good News About Nuclear Destruction”, he says that the vast majority of families will survive, especially if they makes some basic preparations before the event.

In his article, he takes 2004 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calculations using a 10 kiloton bomb detonation at ground level in Washington, D.C. The DHS estimates 15000 immediate deaths from those close to ground zero, and another 15000 from explosion and thermal effects and massive radiation exposure. While this seems like a lot of deaths, it only represents 1% of the city’s population. Of course, the rest of the city (hundreds of thousands) would be at risk from radioactive fallout.

DUCK AND COVER

Duck and cover

Duck and cover

You may have seen old films showing children hiding under school desks to escape the wrath of a nuclear explosion. Like me, you may have found these “Duck and Cover” films quaint (and perhaps silly) to think that you can survive a blast by just getting down and covering yourself with, in this case, some wood and metal. Yet, placing a shield between you and the effects of the detonation is the basis for the “bomb shelter”.

Although “Duck and Cover” won’t prevent incineration for those very close to ground zero, it can prevent severe injuries from broken glass. In the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion incident in 2013, 1500 people suffered from lacerations due to flying glass from the shock wave. If those people had hit the deck as soon as they heard the meteor explode instead of going to the window to have a look, much fewer casualties would have been recorded.

Chelyabinsk meteor event

Chelyabinsk meteor event

THE EFFECTIVE FALLOUT SHELTER

 

In the DHS’s Washington, D.C. scenario, hundreds of thousands were at risk for radiation sickness. Yet, fallout drops 99% by 48 hours after a blast. If citizens would just remain inside or, better, in a planned-out bomb shelter, the chances for survival are much greater. Having four walls and a roof is helpful, but more can be done to enhance the protective effects of a shelter, both against radiation and blast effects.

The more material that you can use to separate yourself from fallout, the less likely you’ll suffer ill effects. Barrier effectiveness is measured as “halving thickness”. This is the thickness of a particular shield material that will reduce gamma radiation (the most dangerous kind) by one half.  When you multiply the halving thickness, you multiply your protection.

For example, the halving thickness of concrete is 2.4 inches or 6 centimeters.  A barrier of 2.4 inches of concrete will drop radiation exposure by one half.  Doubling the thickness of the barrier again (4.8 inches of concrete) drops it to one fourth (1/2 x 1/2) and tripling it (7.2 inches) will drop it to one eighth (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2), etc.  You’re shooting for ten halving thicknesses (24 inches of concrete), which would drop the total radiation exposure to 1/1024th that of being out in the open.

Here are the halving thicknesses of some common materials:

  • Lead: 4 inches or 1.02 centimeter
  • Steel: 1 inch or 2.54 centimeters
  • Concrete: 2.4 inches or 6.09 centimeters
  • Soil (packed): 3.6 inches or 9.14 centimeters
  • Water: 2 inches or 18.28 centimeters
  • Wood: 11 inches or 27.94 centimeters

By looking at the list above, you can see 1 centimeter of lead gives the same radiation protection as 6 centimeters of concrete.

CIVIL DEFENSE

You might consider the 1950’s “Duck and Cover” to be pretty anemic as a civil defense measure, but it’s more than is practiced today with regards to preparing people for nuclear attacks. So little emphasis is placed on this kind of preparedness that few citizens have even thought about it, or even understand the term.

Civil defense is the organized effort to protect the citizens of a state from military attack. We don’t even have a nuclear civil defense agency, as it is now the purview of the Department of Homeland Security. Lately, “civil defense” efforts have instead been targeting natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and the like.

We certainly need to plan for natural disasters, which will occur much more commonly in the future than nuclear explosions (I hope). Utilities are considering what to do about rogue squirrels more than they are considering rogue nations.

We need, however, to put together a national plan for nuclear attacks that don’t just include the protection of high-level government officials. We need to formulate a strategy that will give the average citizen the best chance of surviving the aftermath as well.

Despite the risks, we are doing less today to counter the consequences of nuclear attacks than before, especially when it comes to EMPs. The Department of Defense recently allowed the funding for the national EMP commission, headed by Dr. William Graham and Dr. Peter Pry, to lapse. This effectively disbanded the only body that was responsible for advising the government on how to protect the populace against nuclear electromagnetic pulse attacks.

There’s still time to harden the grid and encourage Americans to put together a plan of action in case of nuclear attack. Hostile actions by the world’s bad actors can easily hit home, and every citizen is at risk. If we put together a national strategy to cope with the consequences, we’ll be better prepared to deal with whatever challenges face us in the uncertain future.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

Find out more about nuclear events and 150 other topics in the 2017 Book Excellence Award winner in medicine “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Medical Help Is Not On The Way”.

Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse Events

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NUCLEAR EMPS

EMP range

EMP range

We live in the shadow of the sun, which gives us, well, shadows, but also bathes us in huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Luckily for us, the earth has a magnetic field as a shield against cosmic rays; thanks to it, the human race survives solar storms and other cosmic phenomena.

The sun is a natural source of electromagnetic radiation, but there are un-natural sources as well. The proliferation of nuclear weapons has given us the potential for ending society, not just from physical blasts, but also from electromagnetic pulses.

A nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NEMP) is a burst of radiation created by the detonation of a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. Higher up, there are less blast effects on humans but more severe effects on certain equipment. The flood of electromagnetic energy can produce surges that instantaneously damage electrical grids and electronics, perhaps permanently.

atmospheric detonation

atmospheric detonation

What experience do we have with nuclear electromagnetic pulses? Precious little. In 1962, the U.S. tested a 1.4 megaton device 240 miles over the South Pacific (“Operation Starfish Prime”). It unexpectedly affected street and traffic lights 1000 miles away in Hawaii. There were other surprises, as well: 6 satellites were damaged by the radiation, which spent months in space due to the high altitude of the detonation. All eventually became inoperative. Concern over these effects resulted in the 1963 ban on nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere.

The military has since taken measures to “harden” strategic defense systems against NEMPs; little has been accomplished, however, to protect civilian infrastructure in a nation increasingly dependent on the grid and delicate electronics.

The consequences of a successful nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack could, therefore, be devastating, knocking millions off the grid in an instant and causing widespread chaos.  Even though a detonation 300 miles up in space won’t kill people from the blast, you can imagine the challenges related to keeping society stable and people healthy in the aftermath.

Once upon a time, a nuclear EMP was considered to be an event with a very low likelihood of occurrence, but recent advances in weapons technology by the saber-rattling regime of Kim Jong-Un in North Korea begin to make even skeptics realize that NEMPs may become a major concern in the near future.

ICBM launch

ICBM launch

The rogue nation is now able to send an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as far as the U.S. capitol. Although they are not yet perfected, these missiles carry a significant payload and have the capacity to deploy decoys that might confuse our missile defense systems. In addition, North Korea has been successful in launching satellites that currently fly over U.S. territory every 46 minutes. At the rate that they are advancing, North Korean satellites with the ability to carry low-yield nuclear weapons may soon be a possibility.

To be honest, we don’t have a clear picture of the effects of a NEMP on heavily populated areas. Some believe that the risk to the electrical grid and electronics is overblown. Others, however, feel that an unprotected grid struck by an electromagnetic pulse event could take years to restore in worst-case scenarios, and cause widespread civil unrest and panic even if a limited event.

Who's in charge of protecting the grid?

Who’s in charge of protecting the grid?

Regardless of your estimation of the severity of NEMP attacks, you probably would agree with me that there should be someone in charge of protecting us against them. Despite this threat, and 15 years of recommendations from a national EMP commission to harden civilian infrastructure, we still have no definitive oversight body with any real regulatory or funding power to protect the grid. What we’ve done instead is disbanded the EMP commission entirely, allowed needed legislation to die in committees, and left our energy corporations and utilities to make their own decisions. These organizations, and the private North American Energy Reliability Corporation, are more concerned with protecting the grid from the more common natural disasters than nuclear ones.

The EMP commission estimated that it would cost at least 20 billion dollars to harden our civilian infrastructure against EMP attacks. I believe it’s money well spent, but funding alone isn’t enough. Responsibility for grid protection must be assigned to a single body; one that can oversee, not only security, but also recovery in the aftermath of an attack.

We tend to react to disasters after they happen rather than take measures to prevent their consequences. This is bad policy for the medic, and worse national policy when it comes to hurricanes and wildfires; it’s disastrous when it comes to EMPs.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

Follow Dr. Alton on Facebook at Doom and Bloom(tm), Twitter @preppershow, and YouTube’s DrBones NurseAmy channel. Don’t forget to check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and individual supplies at store.doomandbloom.net!

6 Ways To Curb Active Shooters

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6 Ways to Curb Active Shooters Attacks

Can we end active shooter events?

Can we end active shooter events?

The recent shootings in diverse settings greet Americans with tragic news on a regular basis. Gunmen identify soft targets in diverse settings, from concerts in Las Vegas to church services in small towns.

it should be clear to you that there is no place safe from the bad intentions of the deranged, disgruntled, and politically-motivated. Vehicular attacks, bombings, shootings, even stabbings indicate that we’re likely to be in for a rough ride in the future.

You might think that the “successes” achieved of late by active shooters are random occurrences. New records for casualties, however, show there is a blueprint that is being refined to deadly effect.

The selection of soft targets is becoming a science, and is leading to higher numbers of deaths and injuries. If those with bad intentions are getting better at creating mayhem, it stands to reason that our society must get better at thwarting those intentions. Here are six ways that would, in my opinion, decrease the number of shooter incidents  (and casualties):

  1. Improve security in areas at risk. I would define an “area at risk” as just about anywhere where a crowd of people would gather. Better protection at malls may be a matter of hiring more trained personnel, but establishing a safety team in other places, such as a church or workplace, can increase the level of vigilance and identify threats early.
  2. Establish volunteer safety officers in rural areas and small towns where there may not be law enforcement and emergency medical personnel just around the corner. These persons should have training in security, firearms, and first aid for bleeding wounds. If there are volunteer fire departments, while not trained volunteer safety departments?
  3. Instill a culture of situational awareness in our society. Situational awareness is a state of calm, relaxed observation of factors that might indicate a threat. These are called “anomalies”; learning to recognize them can identify someone who may have bad intentions. Situational awareness also involves always having a plan of action when a threat occurs, even if it’s as simple as making a note of the nearest exit at a concert. Seems like common sense, but in these days of smartphone distractions, many are oblivious of their surroundings.
  4. Teach our citizens to avoid the natural paralysis that occurs in an unexpected event. This paralysis occurs as a result of “normalcy bias”, the tendency to discount risks because most days proceed in a certain standard manner; we assume that today will be the same. By teaching simple courses of action such as the Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide, Fight” triad, the decision-making process may be more intuitive and more rapidly implemented. This is more effectively taught and ingrained at a young age.
  5. Teach our students simple first aid strategies to stop bleeding, the most likely cause of death in these scenarios. Rapid action by bystanders is thought to decrease the number of deaths from hemorrhage. Add “Reduce” hemorrhage to “Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic” as part of school curriculum, and lives might be saved.
  6. Provide first aid kits for bleeding in public venues that can be accessed by those at the scene. With supplies, the Good Samaritan will be more likely to save a life. I predict that these kits, already on the market, will be fixtures on the wall next to the fire extinguisher in the uncertain future.

Despite the above recommendations, our response as a nation has been to do little to correct the problem. I say that era must end. Let’s stop being “soft” targets. We must forsake the notion that shootings are just part and parcel of the New Normal, and begin the process by which we change our attitude and level of vigilance, not in isolated cases, but as a society.

I’m not an official with the Department of Homeland Security, but I know that there are more active shooter events in our future. A prepared nation wouldn’t be invulnerable to attacks, but its citizens would have a better chance to survive them.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

 

Medical kits to stop bleeding are good items to have in these uncertain times. Check out kits specially designed by us for workplaces, schools, places of worship, and other public venues that might save a live in the hands of the Good Samaritan.

Multi-person Kit for Bleeding

Multi-person Kit for Bleeding

 

Vehicular Terror: The Easiest Blueprint To Create Mayhem

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Vehicular Terror: The Easiest Blueprint For Terror

vehicular terror

vehicular terror

In these days of smartphone distractions, you’re seeing more and more people oblivious of their surroundings. In the past, this might get you a bump on the head by walking into a lamp post. In today’s world, however, it could cost you your life.

The NYC vehicular attack that killed 8 and injured a number of others is just the latest in a number of incidents by the deranged, disgruntled, and politically motivated.  These events occur with little warning. Yet, being situationally aware could prevent you from becoming a victim of a future vehicular terror event.

Situational awareness involves understanding factors in your immediate vicinity that might represent a threat. I’m not talking about second-hand smoke; I’m talking about serious dangers that you can avoid with rapid action.

Vehicular terrorism is not new, with Israel the scene of multiple attacks in past years. It’s becoming more and more common in the West, however, with attacks in NYC, London, Nice, France, Berlin, and elsewhere. A Somali student used his car to run over several people at Ohio State University and then perpetrated a knife attack on those who, ironically, ran over to see if he was injured. Many similar events have occurred, but rarely make the news.

Why vehicular terror? Terror attacks are often associated with bombs, but making a bomb requires some expertise to assemble safely. Guns, the other preferred weapon, are difficult to come by in most countries other than the U.S. Owning or renting a vehicle, however, is easy. Trucks and cars can cause mass casualties if wielded as a weapon; obtaining one isn’t an act that evokes suspicion.

Early this year, an article titled “Just Terror Tactics” was published by the English-language ISIS magazine “Rumiyah”.  It described which vehicles will cause the most damage and called for attacks on Western crowds. “It is a simple idea and there is not much involved in its preparation,” the article said. “All what is needed is the willingness to give one’s life for Allah.”

The article goes on: “Pick your location and timing carefully. Go for the most crowded locations. Narrower spots are also better because it gives less chance for the people to run away. Avoid locations where other vehicles may intercept you…”

“To achieve maximum carnage, you need to pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control of your vehicle in order to maximize your inertia and be able to strike as many people as possible in your first run.”

The writer also suggested attackers weld steel blades onto the front of an SUV: “They do not need to be extra sharp because with the speed of the truck at the time of impact, even a blunter edge would slice through bone very easily. You may raise the level of the blades as high as the headlights. That would make the blades strike your targets at the torso level or higher.”

These tactics represent the new blueprint among terrorists for causing mayhem. Few people pay much attention to traffic unless they’re driving a vehicle themselves or crossing the street. The speed at which a vehicle can accelerate and turn into a crowd leaves little reaction time. Therefore, the “success” rate of this type of terror event may surpass even a gunman’s ability to cause deaths and injuries.

I advocate for a constant state of “Yellow Alert” when in public spaces. By that, I mean a calm but vigilant observation of what’s happening around you. Look for anomalies in behavior that might warn you of nefarious intentions. For example, hopping up and down and screaming may be normal at a rock concert, but it’s an anomaly at Starbucks.

This attitude is useful, but it’s difficult to respond quickly enough to avoid an oncoming car or truck.  When a vehicle moves erratically or leaves the normal pattern of traffic, it’s an anomaly that requires quick action. Mentally noting routes of escape whenever you’re in public will give you the best chance of escaping. Just as knowing the location of exits in a mall or theatre is good policy, a heightened awareness is now important at any public area near roadways.

For vehicular terrorists, the target will be crowds of people near the street. Their objective is mass casualties, and those pedestrians nearest the curb will bear the brunt of the attack. Consider walking on the fringe of a crowd away from the road to give yourself the most options. In the center, the masses, not your own good judgment, will dictate your movement.

Bollards may help protect again vehicular terror

Bollards may help protect again vehicular terror

Municipalities can protect their citizens from vehicular terrorism by constructing barriers known as “bollards” which stop vehicles from entering pedestrian areas. These can be seen outside many government buildings and airport terminals. Expanding their use to areas that attract crowds would be an important consideration for the future.

I’m not the only one thinking of how to deal with vehicular terror. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a release warning of vehicular terrorism and how to identify an imminent attack. The release acknowledges the time issues in reacting to such events, but includes the following things to look for:

  • Unusual modifications to vehicles, such as frontal reinforcement.
  • The purchase or rental of large or heavy-duty vehicles, especially if there is nervousness during the transaction, payment in cash, or lack of familiarity with the vehicle’s operations.
  • Commercial motor vehicles or heavy equipment being operated in unusual locations, such as particularly heavy pedestrian areas.
  • Attempts to approach areas closed to traffic, such as street festivals or farmers’ markets.
  • A vehicle operator’s apparent unfamiliarity with operating a commercial vehicle, such as trouble with gear shifting.

I’ll admit that the likelihood you’ll be in the path of a terrorist using a vehicle, or any other weapon, is very small. Panic isn’t the answer, but these are troubled times; the more situationally aware you are, the safer you’ll be.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

Read more about terror preparedness and 150 other medical topics in the 2017 Book Excellence Award winner in Medicine “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way”, now in its 700 page Third Edition.

Can Churches Be Made Safe Again?

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Can Churches Be Made Safe Again?

Can Churches Be Made Safe?

church safety

A gunman entered the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, killing one and injuring several others at a September 24th Sunday religious service. This heinous act of violence in a place of worship underscores the need for a strategy that churches can implement to keep congregants safe.

There is no place where crowds gather that is immune to the bad intentions of a disgruntled, deranged, or politically-motivated individual. Therefore, a culture of situational awareness must be instilled in every citizen. This attitude of calm vigilance is especially needed in religious venues.

Unfortunately, not all pastors prioritize church safety at the level needed in this toxic climate. The premise that their ministry is based on peace fails to take into account that there are those who consider places of worship to be “soft”targets. In this era of active shooters and anti-Christian feeling, pastors must make sure their flock is safe, just like any shepherd. In the New Normal, it’s has become part of the job description.

In my role as medical preparedness writer, it’s my mission to help the average citizen promote the well-being of loved ones in disasters. Lately, I’ve written about hurricanes and earthquakes, but shooter events like the one in Antioch are also instances where mass casualties can occur. These casualties might be minimized with a plan of action and quick action.

Large churches may choose to hire security professionals and install video surveillance technology. Smaller and less affluent churches, however, might benefit by establishing what I call a “safety ministry“. This group should be comprised of parishioners who have some security experience, such as active and former law enforcement, military veterans, and carefully selected others. Members should evaluate the layout of the church and grounds for weak spots and organize a plan of action for calling 911 and other measures when needed.

This goal might best be accomplished with the cooperation and assistance of local police. They can help train church members in how to identify the behavior of possible perpetrators of violence. The pastoral staff should be actively involved in this training to assess liability issues that might arise, and to insure that the safety ministry is not perceived as a “goon squad”.

The call for volunteers for such a ministry should be made publicly and their purpose should be frankly (but calmly) explained so as to emphasize their benefits to all those attending the church. The formation of a security group in private might otherwise tend to cause concern instead of reassurance.

A simple way to avoid or abort acts of violence in places of worship is the placement of friendly but visible “greeters” or ushers at church entrances. These people can look for anomalies, such as someone inappropriately dressed for the weather. If a person seeking entry is wearing an overcoat in hot weather, it could be because they are concealing a weapon. Having greeters outside could also make it easier to identify those acting nervously, loitering in the parking lot, or otherwise exhibiting suspicious behavior.

Safety ministry personnel should have the ability to close and lock doors to prevent a gunman from entering. Conversely, they can also open all the exits that could be used to direct congregants out of harm’s way when necessary. Ushers can also look for packages left behind that might hide an explosive device.

In an active shooter event, multiple casualties are incurred, leaving wounded and bleeding victims at the scene. Safety Ministry personnel should have training on how to stop bleeding and equipment such as first aid kits geared to help them accomplish this goal. Indeed, the church might consider arranging such training for their entire congregation.

Although this article is geared towards security during services, a plan of action should be organized for other times during the week as well, and certainly for youth group meetings and other activities sponsored by the church.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the question as to whether non-professional security personnel should be armed. I can’t give you the answer. This is a decision that must be made taking local laws, risk levels, and the wishes of the congregation into consideration.

Sadly, I envision a future where safety ministries are standard operating procedure for our places of worship. Additionally, I predict that first aid kits will be fixtures next to the fire extinguishers on the walls of every place where crowds gather.

It may be a major challenge to protect people of faith these days, but preparing for untoward events should be the responsibility of every pastor and congregant. With a plan of action, they’ll have the best chance to keep our churches safe in the uncertain future.

Joe Alton MD

dr. alton

Joe Alton MD

(Note: I don’t claim to be a security professional, just an old country doctor. If you have additional advice on how to improve the safety of people of faith, send your tips to drbonespodcast@aol.com!)

 

Besides Church, it’s never a bad idea to have a first aid kit for the home and/or vehicle. Feel free to check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net. You’ll be glad you did.

The Survival medicine handbook Third Edition 2016

The Survival Medicine Handbook Third Edition

Survival Medicine Hour: Earthquake, Birthing Supplies, Hemorrhage, More

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Survival Medicine Hour #355

earthquake damage

earthquake damage

What would you have done if you were in Mexico City during the recent earthquakes? Is there anything that might have increased your chances of survival? In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, hosts Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP talk about earhtquakes in general and give you safety tips that could save a life.

birthing supplies

birthing supplies

Plus, what supplies would you need for delivering a baby and caring for a pregnancy in tough times? Nurse Amy put on her Expert Council hat from Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast to answer a listener’s question. In addition, one of our readers sends us an entertaining story about her son’s hornet sting and some natural remedies she uses for her allergy-prone family.

Direct Pressure on Bleeding Wound

Bleeding wound

Lastly, is it time to add a 4th R to Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic in school curriculums? Should Reduce hemorrhage classes be talk in view of the risk of injury during natural disasters, shooter events, even car crashes? Sounds crazy, but would it save a life?

All this and more in the latest episode of The Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy! To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/09/22/survival-medicine-hour-earthquakes-first-aid-hornets-birthing-supplies

 

BTW, you can follow us at twitter @preppershow, YouTube at DrBones NurseAmy channel, and Facebook at our Doom and Bloom page or our survival medicine group “survival medicine dr bones nurse amy”

Thanks!

Don’t forget to check our medical kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net, plus our latest edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at Amazon and on this website.

The Survival medicine handbook Third Edition 2016

The Survival Medicine Handbook Third Edition

Types of Nuclear Weapons and Their Effects

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TYPES OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THEIR EFFECTS

Ground Blast with Fireball

Given the fragile state of affairs on the Korean peninsula, fears of a nuclear incident are higher than at any time since the Cold War. With good reason, most people associate use of nuclear weapons with devastating outcomes. Few, however, know much about the different types and their actual effects.

(by the way, It’s pronounced “noo-clee-ar”, not “noo-cu-lar”)

TYPES OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Until the recent missile launches by North Korea, most people were concerned about the use of “dirty bombs“ by terrorists. A dirty bomb is not technically a nuclear weapon. It uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material in the general area. Usually, the effect of the explosion causes more damage and casualties than the radioactive elements.

Our concept of an “atomic bomb“ as developed by the Manhattan Project in the 1940s is one that uses “nuclear fission”. The explosion is caused by a chain reaction that splits atomic nuclei. The result is a wave of intense heat, light, pressure, and kinetic energy equaling thousands of tons (also called kilotons) of TNT. This is followed by the release of radioactive particles in a cloud that resembles a mushroom (if a ground blast). Mixed with dirt and debris, the particles fall back to Earth, contaminating crops, animals, and people. This will happen in the area of the detonation, but will also be blown elsewhere by the prevailing winds.

Atomic bombs gave way to hydrogen bombs, which are best described as “thermonuclear” weapons due to the generation of extreme heat during detonation. H-Bombs use a process known as nuclear fusion, which takes two light nuclei and forms a heavier one, using variations of hydrogen atoms called “isotopes”. This fusion process requires high temperatures and usually involves a fission reaction as discussed above to initiate. H-Bombs don’t just generate power in the kilotons; they can reach levels in the megatons (millions of tons) of TNT.

Another type of thermonuclear weapon is the “neutron bomb“, which generates much less kinetic energy and thermal damage, but much more radiation. Enhanced radiation weapons like the neutron bomb generate a fusion reaction that allows neutrons to escape the weapon with only a limited blast. Originally designed by the United States to counter massive Soviet tank formations, the neutron bomb is an example of a tactical nuclear weapon. The effect is to leave infrastructure mostly intact while wiping out human targets due to massive radiation.

Blast and Heat Waves cause more % damage than radiation in a fission bomb detonation

DAMAGE CAUSED BY A NUCLEAR ATTACK

The impact of a nuclear bomb is dependent on its “yield”, a measure of the amount of energy produced. The Hiroshima A-Bomb had a yield of 15 kilotons, while the “Tsar Bomba” detonated by the Russians in 1961 had a yield of 51 megatons (51,000 kilotons!). Most of the weapons stockpile of the U.S. and Russia consist of bombs in the 100 to 500 kiloton range, much stronger than Hiroshima and much weaker than Tsar Bomba. This is because they are meant to be fired at major cities in clusters rather than one large bomb, which would be easier to intercept than, say, 20 smaller ones.

Damage is caused by:

  • Blast effects (kinetic energy) – damage due to the explosion and resulting shock wave
  • Heat (thermal energy) – damage generated by extreme heat
  • Radiation (initially and later via fallout) – both local and, later, far-reaching
  • Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) – disrupts telecommunications, infrastructure

You can expect a generally circular pattern of local damage, but various factors come into play besides the yield of the weapon. The altitude of the explosion, weather, wind conditions, and nearby geologic features play a role. The U.S. government estimates the distribution of damage for fission bombs to be distributed in the following manner:

  • 50% shockwave
  • 35% heat
  • 5% initial blast radiation
  • 10% fallout radiation

Hiroshima Burn Victim

(Note: I don’t have the data in front of me, but it stands to reason that H-bombs would likely cause a higher percentage of heat damage while Neutron bombs would cause more radiation damage than the above model for a standard fission bomb.)

The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 flattened buildings over a roughly 4 square mile area and killed 60,000 people immediately. Another 90,000-140,000 succumbed later to injuries and radiation exposure. Although this represents a total of 150,000 to 200,000 fatalities, the entire population did not perish. At the time of the explosion, there were about 350,000 people in Hiroshima, including 43,000 soldiers. This shows that, although horrific in its effects, that distance from ground zero and other factors play a role in a nuclear weapon’s lethality, as does the power of the bomb itself.

A 50 megaton H-Bomb like the Russian “Tsar Bomba“, however, would cause a much larger circle of devastation than the Hiroshima bomb, with widespread fatalities at least 20 miles from ground zero and third-degree burns 50 miles away. Windows were reported shattered from the test detonation as far away as Norway and Finland.

You might think there isn’t anything you can do in a nuclear attack, and if you’re at ground zero at the moment of detonation, you’re right. But your chances of survival, given some time, distance, and protection, may be better than you think. Well talk about’ what you can do to increase your chances of survival in future articles.

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD

 

Find out more about disasters (natural and man-made) with the 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And don’t forget to fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net.

Doom and Bloom(tm) Med Kits

Survival Medicine Hour: Sulfa Drugs, Uva Ursi, Quicklime, More

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sulfa Drugs

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD (Dr. Bones) and Amy Alton, ARNP (Nurse Amy) examine Sulfa drug antibiotics as an option in survival settings. One of the first antibiotics, sulfa has been credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands in WWII, including Winston Churchill himself, and still has applications today in good or bad times.

Also, the herb Uva Ursi may have some use in urinary tract infections, one of the medical issues that sulfa drugs are effective for. Find out more about this herb in Nurse Amy’s segment on natural remedies.

Uva ursi

Uva Ursi

Plus, Dr. Bones discusses what disasters are most responsible for the most deaths in the U.S. over the last 40 years. The answers will definitely surprise you! Plus, some guidelines on disposal of dead bodies in post-apocalyptic times.

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton!

To Listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/04/07/survival-medicine-hour-sulfa-drugs-uva-ursi-quicklime-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

The Altons

Please follow us on Twitter @ Preppershow, and don’t forget to check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits at store.doomandbloom.net!

The Vehicle as Terror Weapon

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vehicular-terrorism

vehicular terror

 

In these days of Pokemon Go and other smartphone distractions, you’re seeing more and more people oblivious of their surroundings. In the past, this might get you a bump on the head by walking into a lamp post. In today’s world, however, it could cost you your life.

 

As an Anglophile, I have often visited London and walked from my hotel to parliament and other sites via the Westminster bridge. Today, on the anniversary of the terrorist attack in Belgium, someone used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians on the bridge and then, apparently, left the car to continue a rampage that has left a number of casualties in its wake. The British, after some hesitation, have labeled the event a terrorist attack.

 

Vehicular terrorism is not new, with Israel the scene of multiple attacks in past years. It’s becoming more and more common in the West, however, with attacks in Nice, France on Bastille Day and in Berlin at a Christmas market. In the United States, a Somali student used his car to run over several people at Ohio State University and then perpetrated a knife attack on those who, ironically, ran over to see if he was injured. Many similar events rarely make the news.

 

Terror attacks are often associated with bombs, but making a bomb requires some expertise to assemble safely. Guns, the other preferred weapon, are difficult to come by in most countries other than the U.S. Owning or renting a vehicle, however, is easy. Trucks and cars can cause mass casualties if wielded as a weapon; obtaining one isn’t an act that evokes suspicion.

 

Recently, an article titled “Just Terror Tactics” was published by the English-language ISIS magazine “Rumiyah”.  It described which vehicles will cause the most damage and called for attacks on Western crowds. “It is a simple idea and there is not much involved in its preparation,” the article said. “All what is needed is the willingness to give one’s life for Allah.”

 

The article goes on: “Pick your location and timing carefully. Go for the most crowded locations. Narrower spots are also better because it gives less chance for the people to run away. Avoid locations where other vehicles may intercept you…To achieve maximum carnage, you need to pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control of your vehicle in order to maximize your inertia and be able to strike as many people as possible in your first run.”

 

The writer also suggested attackers weld steel blades onto the front of an SUV: “They do not need to be extra sharp because with the speed of the truck at the time of impact, even a blunter edge would slice through bone very easily. You may raise the level of the blades as high as the headlights. That would make the blades strike your targets at the torso level or higher.”

 

These tactics represents the new blueprint among terrorists for causing mayhem. Few people pay much attention to traffic unless they’re driving a vehicle themselves or crossing the street. The speed at which a vehicle can accelerate and turn into a crowd leaves little reaction time. Therefore, the “success” rate of this type of terror event may surpass even a gunman’s ability to cause deaths and injuries.

 

I advocate for a constant state of “Yellow Alert” when in public spaces. By that, I mean a calm but vigilant observation of what’s happening around you. Look for anomalies in behavior that might warn you of nefarious intentions. For example, hopping up and down and screaming may be normal at a rock concert, but it’s an anomaly at Starbucks.

 

This attitude is useful, but it’s difficult to respond quickly enough to avoid an oncoming car or truck.  When a vehicle moves erratically or leaves the normal pattern of traffic, it’s an anomaly that requires quick action. Mentally noting routes of escape whenever you’re in public will give you the best chance of escaping. Just as knowing the location of exits in a mall or theatre is good policy, a heightened awareness is now important at any public area near roadways.

 

For vehicular terrorists, the target will be crowds of people near the street. Their objective is mass casualties, and those pedestrians nearest the curb will bear the brunt of the attack. Consider walking on the fringe of a crowd away from the road to give yourself the most options. In the center, the masses, not your own good judgment, will dictate your movement.

 

bollards 1

Bollards

Municipalities can protect their citizens from vehicular terrorism by constructing barriers known as “bollards” which stop vehicles from entering pedestrian areas. These can be seen outside many government buildings and airport terminals. Expanding their use to areas that attract crowds would be an important consideration for the future.

 

I’m not the only one thinking of how to deal with vehicular terror. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a release warning of vehicular terrorism and how to identify an imminent attack. The release acknowledges the time issues in reacting to such events, but includes the following things to look for:

 

  • Unusual modifications to vehicles, such as frontal reinforcement.

  • The purchase or rental of large or heavy-duty vehicles, especially if there is nervousness during the transaction, payment in cash, or lack of familiarity with the vehicle’s operations.

  • Commercial motor vehicles or heavy equipment being operated in unusual locations, such as particularly heavy pedestrian areas.

  • Attempts to approach areas closed to traffic, such as street festivals or farmers’ markets.

  • A vehicle operator’s apparent unfamiliarity with operating a commercial vehicle, such as trouble with gear shifting.

I’ll admit that the likelihood you’ll be in the path of a terrorist using a vehicle, or any other weapon, is very small. Panic isn’t the answer, but these are troubled times; the more situationally aware you are, the safer you’ll be.

 

Joe Alton, MD

joealtonlibrary4

Dr. Alton

 

Find out more strategies for dealing with terror attacks and 150 other topics related to survival in the Third Edtion (700 pages!) of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available on this website or Amazon.

 

 

 

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

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones

Survival Medicine Hour: Protest Survival, Capsizing, Allergies, Pt.1

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closed fist protest

Surviving a Protest

The Survival Medicine Hour with your hosts Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy discuss Protest Safety, How to survive a capsized boat or cold water immersion, and part one of a series on allergies. Our website https://www.doomandbloom.net/ is a source for these and other topics.

 

Getting caught in the middle of the crowd in the frenzy of protesting could be dangerous, especially if you are wearing anything that identifies you as their “enemy., Knowing how to extricate yourself and be the “gray man” can help you stay safe. Don’t approach lines of police officers in riot gear, they are focused on getting the crowd under control and could mistake you for a rioter. Try to stay with friends and escape as quickly as possible. Many more tips!

H.E.L.P.

Strategies for capsized boats or other water immersion

 

If you find yourself in the water due to a capsized boat or other water incident. the first step is to try and stay calm. Always wear a life jacket if possible while boating, which enables you to stay warmer since you don’t have to kick or try to swim to keep your head above the water. If any debris is nearby, try to elevate some of your body out of the water. These and more mportant steps to take are presented in the show today.

 

In an introduction to allergies, an immune reaction against an allergen occurs when it is encountered the first time, and may cause little to no reaction at all. The second exposure to this allergen is when the allergic cascade of symptoms and reactions are seen. Allergic reactions may appear in various forms. Part one of this allergie series is discussed on today’s show.

 

All this and more in the Survival Medicine Hour! To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/02/03/survival-medicine-hour-protest-safety-capsize-allergies-pt1

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Amy and Joe Alton

AmyandJoePodcast400x200

Amy and Joe Alton

Survival Medicine Hour: Hypothermia, Nightclub Terror

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hypothermiaoldmanincoldwater

It’s January, and a cold blast from the North is hitting parts of the Deep South. Hypothermia is a big issue for those not prepared for cold weather, and a number of people die every year from being unready to deal with Nature’s challenges. Find out about hypothermia, how the body loses heat, and some strategies for prevention this winter.

 

Also, the Turkish nightclub shooting almost exactly duplicates the blueprint established by last year’s Orlando Nightclub shootings. Along with vehicular terror, Dr. Bones makes the argument that this strategy is going to be repeated again and again, and tells you what you have to do to survive such events.

 

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/01/06/survival-medicine-hour-hypothermia-nightclub-terror-shootings

 

Follow us on twitter @preppershow

Follow our Youtube Channel at DrBones NurseAmy

Follow us at Facebook at DoomandBloom or join our Survival Medicine group at Survival Medicine DrBones NurseAmy

 

All the best for a happy and healthy 2017!

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Video: Vehicular Terror

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vehicular-terrorism

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD discusses the wave of terror events using a car or truck to run down innocent citizens. From Nice, France to Berlin, Germany to Ohio State University, terrorists are figuring out that it’s a lot easier to own, rent, or steal a truck or other vehicle than to build a bomb. Find out more about this new blueprint for terror and  how you can use situational awareness to your advantage to stay safe.

To watch, just click below:

Wishing you the best of health in 2017,

Joe Alton, MD

joealtonlibrary4

Survival Medicine Hour: Vehicular Terror, Hangovers, RP Ruggiero of Brushfire Plague

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sleep1

The Survival Medicine Hour, with Joe Alton,MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year on this last day of 2016. With holiday parties all around us, some will find themselves with a celebration full of alcohol and perhaps a hangover to remember the night before. Before you attend that party, you should listen to this podcast for tips to both prevent and cure that aweful hangover.

Amy Alton, ARNP, interviews the author of the Brushfire Plague Trilogy series after he has recently completed the third book. Mr. R.P. Ruggerio lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons, and spends as much time outdoors as possible. He strives to live by Robert Heilein’s credo ” Specialization is for insects.” The Brushfire Plague trilogy are novels grounded in neighboorhood defense duringa devastating plague. Brushfire Plague, according to R.P., “also has useful lessons about the value of being prepared for possible disruptions to our normal way of life woven into the fabric of the story.  One unique aspect I focus on is the interpersonal dynamics one will be forced to deal with in any crisis situation.  This adds a lot to the drama and storyline and enhances the realism of the novel.”

Vehicular terror is the new blueprint for those wishing to cause mass casualties. Simple to obtain compared to guns and bombs, we can expect more events like the Berlin Christmas Market truck attack. Find out what you need to know to stay safe in these troubled times.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/12/30/survival-medicine-hangovers-rp-ruggiero-vehicular-terror

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

See more information about RP Ruggiero’s books at http://brushfireplague.com/? and at Amazon http://amzn.to/2ilH0e7?.

Don’t forget to follow us on our store, facebook, and twitter:

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Surviving Vehicular Terrorism

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vehicular-terrorism

CNN reports that a man in Berlin used a truck to plow through a group of people at a Christmas market, killing 9 and injuring 50 more. The tractor trailer appeared to deliberately ram through several stalls at what is estimated to be 40 miles per hour; German authorities are treating the incident, at present, as a terror event.

The attack appears to parallel the cargo truck killing of 86 people and the wounding of 434 others in Nice, France during a fireworks display on a national holiday. On a smaller scale, a Somali student at Ohio State University recently ran down a number of people before leaving his car and stabbing several others with a large knife. A pattern seems to be emerging where a vehicle is used to cause casualties in public spaces.

Ordinarily, terror attacks are associated with guns, but these items are difficult to come by in most countries. Bombs, another preferred terrorist weapon, require expertise to assemble safely. Owning or renting a vehicle, however, is much more common and requires little skill to operate. Trucks and cars can cause mass casualties if wielded as a weapon; obtaining one elicits no suspicion.

Therefore, would-be terrorists now have a new blueprint for causing mayhem among an unsuspecting public. There are few who pay much attention to traffic unless they’re in a vehicle themselves or crossing the street. The speed at which a vehicle can accelerate and turn into a crowd leaves little time for reaction. Hence, the “success” rate of this type of terror event may surpass even a gunman’s ability to cause deaths and injuries.

The increasing number of terror events around the world underlines the increasing need for situational awareness. Situational awareness is the mindset whereby threats are mentally noted and avoided or abolished. Originally a tool for the military in combat, it is now a strategy for the average citizen in these uncertain times.

The situationally aware person is always at a state of “Yellow Alert” when in crowded public venues. By that, I mean a state of relaxed but vigilant observation of what is happening around him or her. When an action or behavior occurs that doesn’t match the surroundings and situation, it’s an anomaly.

When a vehicle moves erratically or leaves the normal pattern of traffic, it’s an anomaly that requires rapid action. Mentally noting routes of escape whenever you’re in a crowd will give you the best chance of getting out of the way. Just as knowing the location of exits in a mall or theatre is good policy, a heightened awareness is now important at any outdoor event or popular public area near roadways.

For vehicular terrorists, the target will be crowds of people near the street. Their objective is mass casualties, and those pedestrians nearest the curb will bear the brunt of the attack. Consider walking on the fringe of a crowd away from the road to give yourself the most options. In the center, the masses, not your own good judgment, will dictate your movement. Take a walk along Times Square and you’ll see what I mean.

bollards

Retractable Bollards

Municipalities can protect their citizens by constructing barriers known as “bollards” which would stop vehicles from entering pedestrian areas. These can be seen outside many government buildings and airport terminals. Expanding their use to areas that attract crowds would be an important consideration for the future.

I’ll admit that the likelihood you’ll be in the path of a terrorist using a vehicle, or any other weapon, is very small. Panic isn’t the answer, but these are troubled times; the more situationally aware you are, the safer you’ll be.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

For more information on surviving terror events, see my other articles:

https://www.doomandbloom.net/situational-awareness-could-save-your-life/

https://www.doomandbloom.net/how-a-fighter-pilots-strategy-could-save-your-life-the-ooda-loop/

Lessons That Could Save Your Life in a Terror Event

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bombingvictim

I’ve written quite a bit lately about shooting and terror events, but recent events highlight the fact that gun violence isn’t the only way that a terrorist can fulfill their mission of making casualties out of decent citizens. Clearly, bombings, stabbings, or shootings can occur literally anytime and anywhere in the U.S.: at churches, clubs, holiday parties, schools, the mall, at 2 in the morning or in the middle of the day. They’re part of what I call the “New Normal” and we have to be prepared to act if we’re caught in one of these events.

Although I write mostly about disaster medical preparedness, a terror event is a different kind of disaster. It’s one where you can prevent becoming a casualty if you simply know what to do when danger presents itself.  Indeed, if you don’t train yourself to anticipate these events, it could be hazardous to your health and that of your family.

I’ve mentioned the concept of “situational awareness” as a way to decrease your chances of becoming a victim in future terror attacks. In these days of Pokemon Go and other smartphone distractions, you’re seeing more and more people not paying attention to their surroundings. In the past, this might get you a bump on the head for walking into a lamp post. In today’s world, however, it could cost you your life.

Situational awareness involves understanding what’s going on in your immediate vicinity that might be represent a threat to your well-being. I don’t mean second-hand smoke here; I’m talking about knowing what immediate dangers may exist that you can avoid or abolish with your actions. Especially important for soldiers in a combat zone, it’s now become just as important for the average citizen in any public space.

In an area at risk (anyplace where multitudes of people gather), simple things might save your life. Things like not having your hoodie up, which can be like blinders on a horse. Things like making a mental note of the nearest exit at the mall. Things like looking around for people who are acting strangely or, perhaps, dressed too warmly for the weather.  Someone who might be paying too much attention to an everyday object, such as a trash can (which might contain a bomb).

Behaviors normal in some settings might be an “anomaly” in others: Hopping up and down and screaming may be normal behavior at a rock concert, but not at the local mall.  By looking for anomalies in what should be normal behavior in a situation, the situationally aware person will have the best chance to plan an escape when an attack occurs. 

To do this effectively, you should always be in a state of what I call “Yellow Alert”. You’re calm and relaxed, but taking in your surroundings: Always observing how people behave, where the nearest exits are, and formulating a plan of action if you’re in a crowd or other at-risk scenario.

In the case of the terrorist who stabbed nine people in Minnesota, it’s likely that he was in a state of agitation, his hands constantly touching the pocket where he kept his weapon. These are anomalies; things you should watch for whenever you’re in a public place.

In a crowd, it would pay to be at the fringes and not in the middle. Having a wall to your back would eliminate a danger that might come at you from behind. Indoors, for example, in a movie theatre, you want a view of the exits as well as the screen. If someone is behaving strangely, move away from them. If someone is screaming at the employee at the local burger joint (I said NO CHEESE!), maybe you should leave and order a pizza instead.

Air Force Colonel John Boyd devised a situational awareness strategy, called the “OODA Loop”, originally meant for aerial combat. It has practical applications, however, for everyday life. The components of the OODA Loop as it pertains to terror events are:

Observe: Stay at Yellow Alert whenever you’re in a public place where groups of people gather.

Orient: Identify behaviors that are not appropriate for the situation. These anomalies will tell you who and what to keep an eye on.

Decide: Determine the best course of action that will allow your escape or might eliminate the danger altogether.

Act:  Initiate the plan of action and commit to those actions.

It’s difficult to instill a culture of situational awareness in a population, but doing so would save lives. Teaching your kids the basics can help keep them safe, especially if you start early. When you’re out with the kids, tell them to pay attention to what’s going on where you are. Once the family has left the area, ask them how many people were there, what they were wearing, or other details. Ask them what they would have done if something happened. Do this often enough, and it will, hopefully, become common practice. They’ll learn to pay less attention to their smartphones and more to their surroundings.

It would also benefit society if the next generation is taught what to do to help those wounded in a terror attack. In this scenario, law enforcement must pass the wounded by until the terrorist is neutralized. It may surprise you to know this, but there’s someone out there making more casualties, and the police, first and foremost, must abolish the threat. Yet, it’s thought that 1 in 5 deaths from hemorrhage might be avoided with the quick action of bystanders.

It may be time to add a fourth “R” to education. In addition to Reading, (w)Riting, and (a)Rithmatic, Reducing hemorrhage might be a useful thing for kids to learn once they reach a certain age. Indeed, I predict that there will come a time when first aid kits will occupy a space on the walls next to the fire extinguishers and automated defibrillators in schools and other public places.

All this attention to detail may seem paranoid to you, but it’s time to realize that these are dangerous times.  Incorporate situational awareness into a calm, observant mindset and you’ll gain those extra seconds that could mean the difference between life and death in troubled times.

Joe Alton, MD

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Learn about active shooters, stab wound management, and mass casualty events in the new 700 page third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way.

Video: The OODA Loop of Situational Awareness

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Are you safe here?

In this companion video to a previous article, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses a fighter pilot strategy that might save your life in a terror event. Originally meant for aerial dogfights, the OODA loop was developed by Colonel John Boyd and has been used in everything from business to active shooter scenarios. Incorporating the OODA loop into your mindset will help instill the culture of readiness that is so important in the New Normal of the uncertain future.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of help in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Video: Situational Awareness in Terror Attacks

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Terror events: Part of the New Normal

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD tell you how being “situationally aware” could save your life in a terror event. It seems that a day doesn’t go by without some heinous action by terrorist cells, and this video discusses how we can replace a culture of victimization with one of readiness for any disaster. We now know that terror events can happen anywhere, anytime: Malls, schools, nightclubs, holiday celebrations, and more. Throughout the world, no one who ventures into a crowd is safe anywhere. It pays to be aware of your surroundings. Situational awareness could save your life.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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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

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