Survival Friday: First Aid

Survival Friday: Excerpt from The Green Beret Survival Guide SurvivalFinal

Again, if injured, this can quickly become the number one priority.  When considering first aid, think not only of the body, but of the mind.  As noted in the first case study in the Andes, when the group received the devastating news that the search for them had been called off, that could have easily caused many of them to give up mentally, which leads to a very quick physical deterioration.

In the Civil War, it is now estimated there were 750,000 combat deaths.  Two-thirds of those came from disease.  Of those killed in battle, many suffered survivable wounds but because of inadequate medical treatment, a large percentage of those died.

I started this book discussing the mindset needed to survive.  There is also a mindset needed to live.  Two people with the same wound:  one dies, the other lives.  The difference?  A burning desire to cling to life as opposed to giving up.  One key to this is that everyone on your team has to be positive:  when I see someone on a TV show or in a movie look at a wounded person and go: “You’re really messed up!” I shake my head.  That’s not projecting a positive attitude.

Every member of your team should receive basic first aid training.  This goes beyond the local CPR course.  Frankly, the chances that you will have to perform CPR are higher in day-to-day living then in a survival situation, as other types of injuries will be more prevalent.  A few hours spent going over first aid basics can yield great results.

Spend the money on well-stocked first aid kits.  The two types of supplies that are going to be in great demand in an extreme emergency are weapons/ammunition and medical supplies.  We’ve already noted that you need at least a month’s supplies of whatever medication you take.  If it appears that the extreme emergency will be of lasting duration, getting more of that medication is a priority.

Here are some prepackaged first aid kits:

At the more expensive, more extensive end is this Elite Large Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic First Aid Bag:   Elite Large Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic First Aide Bag

 For trauma, here is a basic kit, The Molle Tactical Trauma Kit:  Fully Stocked MOLLE Tactical Trauma Kit First Aide Pouch

 I also like to have a basic first aid kit in the car and house that actually gets used (and restocked) in day to day living, the Adventure Medical Kit Weekender:  Adventure Medical Kits Weekender First Aid

As with all the products I’m posting, what you really need is to have the expert on your team in each specific area be the one who decides what gear the team needs.

Everyone must understand the priorities of triage:

  • Breathing
  • Bleeding
  • Broken

Check injured people in that order.  It’s the order in which a person dies.  However, like everything else, there are exceptions.  Arterial bleeding (spurting blood) can kill as quickly lack of oxygen.

The ability to treat yourself with basic first aid is critical.  In Special Forces we even trained how to give ourselves shots and IVs.  Many people have died from injuries that were not lethal.  But because they didn’t know how to deal with the injury, panic set in, which leads to shock, which kills.

Stay up to date on physical exams.

A critical part of first aid that many people ignore in survival situations is personal hygiene.  Preventing illness is more important than treating it.

Keys to first aid:

  1. Train, train, train.  CPR, stopping bleeding, stabilizing broken limbs.  All are priorities.  Learn how to recognize and deal with hypothermia and dehydration.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Antibiotics are critical.  So are bandages.  Splints.  Medicine.
  3. Learn how to field expedient some supplies.
  4. As part of your Area Study (coming next) you will be familiar with health threats in your area.  Be prepared for them.  This includes not just flora and fauna threats, but environmental ones.
  5. If you wear glasses, have a back up pair, and also back ups stored in your cache.  Even using old prescription glasses is better than nothing.  Don’t throw those glasses away, store them.
  6. When building your team, a person with medical training should be a high priority.



Watch out NY, Cool Gus is heading your way!

This week is Thrillerfest. The conference kicked off yesterday with the Master CraftFest, which is a one-day intensive workshop focused on the craft of writing. Then Wednesday and Thursday is CraftFest, which is more craft and its good to see this conference focus so intently on the craft of writing. The most important part of an authors marketing plan is a good solid cleanly crafted story. We tend to focus so much on the business, especially when things like the Hachette/Amazon negotiation seems to be the center of attention. The business part is important, but you don’t have the business part until you put your butt in the chair and write a damn good book.

There is also PitchFest. I actually attended the very first Pitchfest and pitched to a lot of agents. Bob was there too, but this was about a six months before we put our business into action. I remember Bob strolling in and out of the room, observing. He had given the keynote on how to pitch and made himself available to authors to work pitches. I have mixed feelings about PitchFest, but it is a great networking experience and you do meet a wide variety of agents and other authors. But it’s exhausting, so anyone reading this and attending Pitchfest my suggestion to you is drink water and take small breaks and don’t stress. The most important thing isn’t so much pitching your story, but making a business contact. We also recommend not spending your entire time at the conference focused on these pitches, practicing the pitches, making last minute adjustments to your pitch. Do it before you go to the conference, and then don’t think about it until its time. I know, that’s hard, but really, from someone who did the whole pitch thing for YEARS, its better that way.

ThrillerFest is then Friday and Saturday and filled with panels and workshops and lectures all ranging from writing topics to business topics to panels given from experts in various fields that might interest writers. Bob and I always recommend when picking which panel to attend base it on who the presenter is and not the topic.

East IndiaThis will be the first summer Bob and I are not attending either RWA or Thrillerfest. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. I WILL be at Thrillerfest on Friday, lurking in the lobby, but I’m not actually attending the conference. I’m heading into the city and will be meeting with someone from Amazon and also meet with our author, Amy Shojai and then having dinner with some really cool authors Friday night. But for a few hours, I’ll be hanging in the lobby checking out all the happenings, talking writing and publishing so please, come on over and say hello, cuz you know, its all about networking.

Oh, and before I forget, today is release day for East India by Colin Falconer! Very excited about this book. One of Colin’s best works yet!

Nothing but good times!

So You Want To Make A Living Writing? 13 Great Truths

IMG_1494This is the flip side of my 13 Harsh Truths post of 29 April.

It’s a great life. I’m my own boss. I wear shorts and t-shirts to work, which is in my house. I sit at my desk with a great view of the TN River with a blank stare, drool running down the side of my mouth, and I’m working. Well, not really. Because no one’s paying me for my great thoughts. They’re paying for my writing.

I’ve been doing it for over a quarter of a century and here are some Great Truths I’ve learned about making a living as a writer.

  1. You can. You constantly hear “No one makes a living writing novels.” I’ve heard it for decades. In 2012 I was at a conference where I gave a keynote, then was listening to another keynote speaker saying “Don’t quit your day job”. And it started to worry me, until I realized my day job was writing. So I didn’t quit.
  2. It’s the best time ever to be a writer. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years and have heard all sorts of gloom and doom, but I can honestly say, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time. That’s not to say it isn’t an extremely confusing time, but that’s why I’ve done other blog posts on that, including one about 99% of advice coming from 1% of authors.
  3. There is more information than ever before out there. Which could be bad too, but seriously, you can garner a wealth of information about the craft and business of writing without leaving home.
  4. Leave home. One of the greatest mistakes I made in my early writing career was not networking. Even in self/indie publishing, it’s key to network with people. I know you’re an introvert, but get out there and talk to people. It’s a people business. And network with a couple of other serious writers on your craft. I’m not a fan of large writers groups getting together and doing line by lines, but 2 or 3 serious writers working on story, like we do in Write on the River, is invaluable. Find better writers than you to work with.
  5. Publishing is full of great people. Yes, both in the trad and indie world. Everyone I’ve met is there because they love books and stories. You hear terrible stories about publishers, editors, agents, Amazon etc. but pretty much everyone I’ve met has been really nice. In fact, I’ve been very impressed with how nice the people at Apple, Amazon, Pubit, Kobo etc are, especially to authors.
  6. Writers support writers. Mostly. I always advise writers to join their local RWA chapter. It’s the most professional writing organization around and your local chapter has tons of expertise and friendly people and monthly workshops.
  7. It’s about story not the book. Change your frame of reference. I sell stories. In various modes: digital, audio and print. Wrap your brain around that concept. It’s about the content not the format! I market using . . .
  8. Slideshare, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. all from home. I used to not be a fan of book trailers, and while I don’t think they do much direct selling, they increase your digital footprint. And they’re cool.
  9. The framework of the story is evolving in the digital age. Since you can self-publish just about anything, you aren’t constrained creatively. I think self-pubbing is doing what the cable networks did to TV. HBO broke ground on new formats for series and characters. Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood. Other networks have picked it up. Have you seen Orange Is The New Black? And its precursor Weeds, which my wife and I are binging currently? Jenji Kohan does things with story that are crazy. And seriously, Weeds was Breaking Bad before there was a Breaking Bad. Definitely a different format there. I love studying story and then playing with it.
  10. You can stuWeedsdy story in books, but also on Netflix and On-Demand. Watch everything twice. The first for enjoyment of the story and characters and to learn what happens. The second time is the key as a professional writer. Because you know what’s going to happen you can see how the writers crafted the story and characters now. The second time is eye-opening. If Marie hadn’t stolen that damn state spoon in Breaking Bad, Hank would still be alive and the story would have gone in a completely different direction. Get it? You didn’t the first time you saw it and probably forgot that little event. The second time, it looms large.
  11. Focus on craft; not marketing and promotion. You can’t promote crap. The best marketing is a good story; better marketing is more good stories.
  12. The gatekeepers are readers. While traditional publishing is still a viable path, they no longer control distribution. This is such a fundamental change in the business paradigm, I truly believe very few people grasp the implications. New York is hanging on to its antiquated business model instead of embracing change. As part of the transition in the Army from a focus on conventional forces to Special Operations, I saw how hard change is in a large organization. But evolve or . . .
  13. Bottom line: The only person who can stop your success is you.


Survival Friday: Water Sources

Survival Friday: Excerpt from The Green Beret Survival Guide SurvivalFinal

Almost any environment has water present to some degree. Figure 6-1 lists possible sources of water in various environments. It also provides information on how to make the water potable.

Note: If you do not have a canteen, a cup, a can, or other type of container, improvise one from plastic or water-resistant cloth. Shape the plastic or cloth into a bowl by pleating it. Use pins or other suitable items—even your hands—to hold the pleats.


If you do not have a reliable source to replenish your water supply, stay alert for ways in which your environment can help you.



DO NO SUBSTITUTE THE FLUIDS LISTED IN FIGURE 6-2 FOR WATER  (Really, don’t.  There are a lot of misconceptions put out in fiction about what can and can’t be used instead of water.  Remember, you’re not a vampire.)


(“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”  You don’t want to be the poor Ancient Mariner)


Heavy dew can provide water. Tie rags or tufts of fine grass around your ankles and walk through dew-covered grass before sunrise. As the rags or grass tufts absorb the dew, wring the water into a container. Repeat the process until you have a supply of water or until the dew is gone. Australian natives sometimes mop up as much as a liter an hour this way.

Bees or ants going into a hole in a tree may point to a water-filled hole. Siphon the water with plastic tubing or scoop it up with an improvised dipper. You can also stuff cloth in the hole to absorb the water and then wring it from the cloth.

Water sometimes gathers in tree crotches or rock crevices. Use the above procedures to get the water. In arid areas, bird droppings around a crack in the rocks may indicate water in or near the crack.

Green bamboo thickets are an excellent source of fresh water. Water from green bamboo is clear and odorless. To get the water, bend a green bamboo stalk, tie it down, and cut off the top (Figure 6-3). The water will drip freely during the night. Old, cracked bamboo may contain water.  (Bamboo is a lot more common than you realize.  When you do your area study, this is something you should look for:  all the sources of water that you might not have considered before.)



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