Notes for Tuesday – September 02, 2014

We are running a five-part series on EMS this week. This is an area where there has been a burst of activity, both in writing of articles for SurvivalBlog and in the searching of archives. If you are one of those who needs this information, make sure you are printing out a hard copy of it. Simply click on the title of the article; you will then see a “print” link under the title.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,100+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then 1 minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  13. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  10. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  11. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 54 ends on September 30st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Musings of a Law Enforcement Paramedic – Part 1, by LEO Medic

I am a peace officer by trade, but I am also a paramedic. This article will have five sections to it, based on experiences, thoughts, and training that I have seen and done on a few topics that I think may benefit the readers. The daily sections will be:

  1. Certifications/Training Options
  2. Tactical Combat Casualty Care Lessons/Training
  3. Canine ALS/TCCC
  4. Selection of Gear Carried
  5. Training Tips

A lot of this will be geared towards the retreat group that already has some medical training and for the medical coordinator, but it is applicable to someone looking to start somewhere.

First, let me share a little background on me. I am based in the western U.S. I can’t speak for the east coast, but in the west, it is common for the Forest Service to contract with local law enforcement to patrol and handle calls for service within the National Forest that fall within those local jurisdictional boundaries. USFS LEO’s are tasked primarily with resource protection, so this approach lets them focus on that while not neglecting the public’s needs for peace keeping. My current assignment is in this role. There are currently 20 of us in the division. My squad consists of five, and we have a little over 1000 square miles of patrol area. We range from a hundred degrees in the summer to snow in winters, with over 7000 feet of elevation change. There are a few rivers and lakes in the area. We have very few full-time residents in the area, and those that are full-time residents tend to introduce themselves with the ranch they ride for at the end of their name. There are some very popular recreation areas in our beat, so we deal with a lot of campers, hunters, fishermen, ATV riders, and day trippers that find misfortune.

I am a state and nationally-certified paramedic, and I was an EMT before that. I am a Wildlife First Responder and am Canine ALS trained. I am a NAEMT instructor, EMT instructor, and Tactical Combat Casualty Care/Trauma First Responder/ Law Enforcement First Responder instructor as well. I am the liaison between our department and our medical volunteer group. I have other law enforcement certifications as well, but they don’t pertain to this article.

This duty post is a very interesting look into mini-SHTF situations that the general public encounters. We (myself, a squad mate or two, and the patient/patient’s party) are often very isolated, with whatever gear we have on scene. We are often times assisted by whoever is in the victim’s group; this help has ranged from EMT’s, nurses, and doctors to good Samaritans. I have had the opportunity to witness all levels of people provide care in the field– some great, some awful. There are some interesting trends with each. While we see a few medical calls (medical as in difficulty breathing or stomach pain), most of our calls are trauma based– vehicle/ATV accidents, shootings, stabbings, falls, fights, prop cuts from boats, et cetera. In addition, I end up acting as the default care provider for my co-workers, for everything from cuts and scrapes, deep splinters, allergic reactions, and dehydration to infections that were left untreated too long and pulled muscles. (Why go to town and fill out paperwork when I can get this solved here?) I share duties for coordinating medical training for my division as well as for our volunteers. Nothing in this article is legal or medical advice. It is merely my observations and experiences from these unique situations that I’ve chronicled for the benefit of others, with an eye towards practicing medicine under austere conditions. I will talk about different certification levels. Many of the skills discussed may be outside of your scope of practice, and this is no way an endorsement for you to perform them. However, there may come a day when your knowledge and skill in them may save a life.

Certifications/Training Options

If you are looking into advanced medical training for yourself or group, it is often a daunting task. In addition to time away from work, there is often a large cost associated with any training available. Can you get by on a weekend course? Should you go longer? Should your group sponsor a member to go through something bigger and then re-teach it to the others? Is it worth it to get certified?

Common training avenues include pre-hospital options (like CPR/first aid, EMT, paramedic, and the Wilderness First Aid series) and nursing. I am not going to delve into NP, PA, MD, or DO. These deserve a separate article. Hopefully, this run down may help you plan for your retreat’s medical needs. Medical systems will change greatly at TEOTWAWKI, and the training options need to be looked at in this light.

At a minimum, CPR and basic first aid should be learned by all group members. My agency puts on free classes for the public, and most communities offer them free as well. This is bare bones stuff, covering basic wound care and splinting, RICE, et cetera. It is a very low cost, low time investment. Everyone above age ten (or younger, depending on the individual) should be certified.

As mentioned above, first aid training is usually broken up into two schools– EMS and hospital or nursing.

EMS

EMT or BLS (Basic Life Support) is usually considered the next step up from first aid. It is taught at local community colleges, or through special EMS schools. The EMT idea was devised by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in the 1960’s as a way to deal with the increase in vehicular trauma. Trauma is what EMT is about. EMT covers basic anatomy and physiology, recognition and treatment of shock, recognizing and treating basic problems with the ABC’s, and basic wound care. It is first aid on steroids. This is not a knock. It is the basics, but the basics with a very high level of comfort and skill. A good EMT can do amazing things. Once you have your EMT certification, most communities offer free continuing education (CE) classes to meet annual requirements. EMT’s have limited pharmacology, and a few systems allow them to start IV’s and carry limited medications.

In the same way the EMT idea was designed to deal with vehicular trauma, paramedics or ALS (advanced life support) were designed to deal with cardiac events. Paramedic is usually a 12-24 month certification. Besides EMT skills, medics have extensive cardiology training, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and other advanced skills, such as intubation and needle decompression. Paramedics carry a cardiac monitor and a drug box. A vast majority of it is still basic stuff, but with an even higher level of comfort. As an example, EMTs and medics are both trained in child birth. In EMT, it is covered in class. In paramedic, in addition to class, you have to assist with a certain number of births to pass.

EMT and paramedic are both considered pre-hospital level care. Both operate under a doctor’s license at their base hospital. You have “offline” and “online” protocols for patient care. Offline protocols are written orders that your doctor allows you to perform on any patient meeting the stated criteria. For example, I can give Benadryl or epinephrine to a patient having an allergic reaction without having to call in first. Online protocols or a ”patch” is where you call the base hospital and speak directly to a doctor for orders, usually for a complicated situation or for something outside of your protocols. For example, if I’m allowed to give a certain amount of morphine, but a patient with a high opiate tolerance and a compound fracture needs more to control the pain, I can patch through to a doctor, explain the situation, and seek permission to go outside of the normal protocols.

Both EMT and medic are exceptional with dealing with emergency scenes and immediate life saving care. Neither of these certifications includes any long-term patient care training, and this is a huge downside of EMS training in a SHTF world. The ”golden hour” is the standard of care for EMS systems. It is the goal of getting a patient from the time of accident to the hospital within one hour. EMS is designed to stabilize and go. Even with a critical care paramedic, such as a flight medic, you are stabilizing them to get them to surgery. So, you can intubate the unresponsive patient with massive head trauma to keep them alive to get them to the hospital, but what if the hospital is gone? EMS training is also hindered by the relatively short transport time. If the hospital is 30 minutes away, a doctor is not going to allow anything risky to be done in the field. Wounds are covered and transported, not cleaned, washed, and dressed on scene. Why waste ten minutes on scene trying to do a thorough cleaning of a wound when the hospital is ten minutes away, and they are going to re-clean and dress the wound anyway? Broken bones or dislocations are not set or reduced, unless a pulse is missing in the extremity. Even with a weak pulse, a reduction in blood flow, and nerve transmission will not tend to have long lasting effects, so why risk causing more harm? With this in mind, the limitations of EMS training come into view. The care is designed for minutes and hours, not days and weeks.

The wilderness series of certifications was designed to address some of the lack of long-term patient care training and the reduced availability of equipment for first responders, EMTs, and medics operating in remote back country areas. Think about your back country hunting guide or remote search and rescue team. Instead of an hour by the patient’s side before you reach higher care, think more in the 2-5 day range of time. In addition to the entire EMS curriculum, Wilderness teaches some additional skill sets. A few of these include reducing dislocations, bandaging/infection care, and clearing C-spine in the field. A lot of it is scouting basics, such as field expedient splinting and bandaging materials. Imagine you are on day three of a five day hike. Your hiking partner slips and rolls down a hill, dislocating his shoulder and opening up a nasty gash on his arm. In the three days it will take to hike out, infection will set in if not properly cleaned. If the dislocation is not reduced, lifelong deficits could develop. If you can’t clear C-spine in the field, you have to leave him there and go get help. These are not realistic options, so Wilderness Protocols were developed. As stated above with online and offline protocols, Wilderness Protocols are a set of guidelines for patient care when traditional EMS is not available.

I am a huge fan and supporter of the wilderness series of EMS. Our current protocols are a blend of traditional and wilderness ones. Our usual patient care time to transfer is from 30 minutes to four hours, but 8-12 hour time frames occur on a monthly basis. (Think rappelling to a patient and having to do a helicopter long line extraction), and we have been on scene for over 24 hours before, in extreme cases. A large portion of our patrol area is accessible only by boat, helicopter, or foot. We are blessed with a very good base hospital and a doctor who has taken the time to get to know us, our limitations, and the area we work in. Our pre-hospital coordinator is also in charge of emergency preparedness, and they are both realists. We have very liberal medication policies, due to the lack of radio reception in many areas, and we can clear some c-spine in the field among other things. Our hospital would rather have well-trained people capable of making independent decisions in the field, if needed, knowing we may not be able to patch, and then explain why we did what we did later. There is a huge responsibility with this, but it can be and is addressed with training. This is the basis of the mindset for Wilderness first aid, and should be the basis for your group’s planning.

As much of a supporter of the Wilderness Series as I am, it still has some limitations. It contains no patient rehab or long-term care. It covers hours to a few days but not weeks. As a side note, I have also seen that for some reason when someone is trained in Wilderness first aid, they have a hard time correctly applying it. People do not rise to the occasion; they sink to their level of training. So rather than treat the broken arm and shoulder injury by just safety pinning the bottom of the patient’s shirt to the collar in a make shift triangular bandage sling or some other simple fix, they feel a need to whittle a splint from birch bark and use natural grasses to tie it all up. I’m not joking. This is a consistent theme. I’ve seen people with paracord bracelets and all sorts of usable quality medical gear (including large first aid kits!) feel a need to use the most rudimentary option they can devise, just because they are surrounded by trees. I blame the approach to training. For the most part, people that take those classes are outdoorsy types, and they get caught up in the chance to play survivor man. I think most don’t have any other medical training, so they lose sight of the overall goal of patient care and get fixated on that cool thing they saw in class. Also, if you are Wilderness certified as an EMT but operating in the ”city”, wilderness protocols do not apply.

Nursing

In the same way EMS was designed to stabilize and get the patient to a hospital for treatment, nursing came about as its namesake; it is about nursing people back to health. Nurses originally took over after the doctor provided initial treatment, and they provided all aspects of recovery care. As hospitals have modernized (read as cut budgets and staffing) nurses have branched out into many other aspects of patient care, because in a nut shell, they cost less than doctors do. If you go to the ER, you will be triaged by a nurse, assessed by a nurse, a doctor will see you for a few minutes, then a nurse will provide the care the doctor prescribed. If you have surgery, it is very likely a Nurse Anesthetist will be the one putting you to sleep, not the anesthesiologist. Like EMS providers, nurses have patient care protocols. There are certain interventions they can perform, but they need a doctor’s orders for most care or medication administration. Nursing is usually broken up into CNA, LPN, and RN/BSN. (I’m sorry if I left any specialties out).

CNA is a 6-week course that is pretty much taking vitals, basic first aid, and changing bed sheets and bed pans. It’s the jobs in the hospital no one wants to do.

LPN is a year to 18 months, and includes all of the fun of CNA, plus a few more patient care aspects, phlebotomy, and some medication. They go over assessments, triage, et cetera.

RN is a two year program, and BSN is a four year program with a Bachelor of Nursing at the end. These are the real deal nurses people think of when they picture a nurse. There is extensive training in all of the above, including bandaging, dressing, rehabs, pharmacology, anatomy, pathophysiology, some advanced interventions, et cetera. (As a side note, if someone wants to join your group and presents themselves as a nurse, it would be beneficial to find out what type they are!)

As EMS was designed for seconds to a few days, nursing was designed for seconds to months, and every aspect of patient care. I am a huge believer in the usefulness of nursing post-SHTF. This may be a bit pessimistic and basic, but I think most injuries post-SHTF will either kill you or require a long rehab. You won’t have the surgical option to save those in between cases. During this rehab, nurses will shine.

Where nursing does not shine is in pre-hospital emergency field care. I know many critical care flight nurses that are patient care wizards in any condition, along with some top notch ER nurses. Their skill was learned on the job and in that specific field, not in the process of obtaining the basic certification. Nursing is not designed for this, so it’s not a knock against nurses. It’s the nature of the job. Nurses tend to be active types, so I run into a fair number of them on calls. Nurses are great at assessment and triage in the field, but not interventions. A lot of nurses are used to having the supplies of a hospital on hand, so they do not carry first aid kits afield. Many also have a difficult time prioritizing injuries in the field. For example, I’ll leave a broken arm alone until we take care of other things, because broken arms don’t kill right away. One thing nurses are excellent at is doing something rather than just standing by and waiting.

I have also seen doctors perform field care, which has been a mixed bag. From chiropractors to trauma surgeons to family practitioners, along the same lines as others, you must realize what your limitations are and work to fix them. Everyone loses skills if they do not use them. Just ask a doctor to start an IV sometime! Don’t rest on your laurels and be content with your current experience. Expand your training.

Before I start a firestorm of angry letters from doctors, medics and nurses, please understand what I am saying: Our modern medical system is an integrated one with different providers playing different roles. Because each of these roles and accompanying certifications play only a part, they do not receive comprehensive training. People struggle when you take them out of their comfort zone. So what is the solution, besides becoming a Wilderness paramedic, marrying a nurse, and going to Cynthia Koelker’s Survival Medicine class, or recruiting a trauma surgeon? First, realize the limitations of your current training. Then address them. If you are an EMT, get training on bandaging, infection control, rehab, suturing, dentistry, et cetera. If you are a nurse, look into getting EMT trained or buy and read a EMS text. Most states will let a nurse challenge the test and test out. Like Mary Gray in Patriots, think about the skills you may need (for example blood transfusions or suturing) and then seek out training in them. I have a cousin in the Peace Corps. I have used this to start all sorts of conversations with doctors I come across to ask questions about medicine in austere conditions.

If you have no medical training at all, I highly recommend Wilderness EMT. It is a great starting point, it carries national certification, and it lets you start to volunteer in your local community. It is also a low cost, low time commitment option. Note that it is only a starting point. (Go buy and read a nursing text book too!) You know what it is lacking, so plan on learning those topics as well. Nurses and EMS all require CE hours. These can be found for free. Go to them. If you are a nurse, go to EMS CE’s. If you are a medic, go to nursing CE’s. A lot of these apply to TEOTWAWKI. One I attended recently had a lecture on a recent increase of infant seizures. They ended up being caused by electrolyte imbalance from caregivers thinning out formula with water at the end of the month before the first of the month (and the money) came. This is absolutely a problem that will exit with TEOTWAWKI. You never know what you will find out. I also highly recommend Tactical Combat Casualty Care for any provider. (There is more on this later in this article.) I work with many volunteer EMT’s. Some of the best, as far as overall ability to manage a patient, are current or ex-nurses who became EMTs as well. They are well rounded and have addressed the weak points in each of their skill sets. The above is meant as simply a generic observation and is not a limitation on anyone. Use it to help direct your future training.

After getting your basic training, USE IT! Volunteer with a local fire service. There is no substitute for experience, and this will get you an ”in” to many EMS opportunities and trainings. You can often diagnose things by feel after a certain point. Anaphylaxis is a great example of this. After seeing anaphylaxis versus allergic reactions, you can almost tell by the restlessness of the patient which way it is going to go. Make your mistakes now when you have the benefit of others to help you learn from them. Improve your skills. You don’t want the first IV you try to give to be on your dehydrated eight year old who has had diarrhea for a week from bad food and now has collapsed veins. Get better training and experience now when the cost of a mistake is still low. There was a recent letter to the blog regarding the use of body armor. The author stated that although he attended a survival medicine class, he was unsure he could treat a gunshot wound. This is a common feeling that people go through. A little training makes you realize how much you don’t know, because your eyes are opened a little bit more. Training is designed to expose you to new ideas, so that you can learn them to proficiency later. Practice is what cements those ideas in. Let it spark a fire, not discourage you. There will be a day when whether you think you can or can’t won’t matter. You will have to, because no one else will be there to do it.

Realize that whatever level of training you have, you will be the ”doctor” for your family/group. Get training now and round out your skills. Go to a survival medicine class. (I still recommend having baseline medical training, as a starting point for a frame of reference and experience – see the above example.) Practice now. Treat your family. At a minimum, if your spouse has to go to the doctor for an infection or something, diagnose them first. Assess, decide what antibiotics you would give, what dose, length of time, et cetera, and compare them to the doctor’s prescription. If someone gets a horrible case of the flu, try giving them an IV at home. I get ear infections, and my wife made ear drops that work wonders by experimenting. Take vital signs. Listen to lung sounds. Even if you don’t know the names of the sounds, you will learn what normal is and recognize when something is different.

If you are on a strict budget, you could buy an EMS text, nursing text, and Armageddon Medicine, but you still need to read them and put them into practice. My medic teacher loved the analogy of medicine as cooking. Anyone can follow the instructions on a box of hamburger helper. However, a chef can look at a few ingredients and come up with a great meal. Your goal for medical training is to become a chef, not just a cook. The more you understand and learn about disease processes, physiology, and so forth, the better problem solver you will become. Rounding out your education and skills is critical to this. Leonid Rogozov was able to perform a self-appendectomy in Antarctica by being able to apply his skills and knowledge.

I will also encourage anyone in the medical field to start to instruct and teach. In addition to giving back, you will learn the subject in a way you never had imagined. Students ask some amazing questions, and keep you on your toes. It helps keep you up to date with the newest advancements in the topic. I think that medical instruction post-SHTF will be in high demand as a skill, as well as a community asset. (In the Expatriates book before the ambush is planned in Tangerine, imagine the benefit of giving a hasty class to the ambushers on gunshot care or the like.)

Letter Re: 9 Volt Batteries

Folks,

If you’re like me you are heavy in AA and AAA cells and rechargeables, and you’re light in 9v batteries (with none rechargeable). This may be a problem for our 9v devices.

I found a couple items that might be of some use:

Battery Holder for (8) AA with Standard Snap Connector : BH383

Philmore Battery Holder for (6) AA with Standard Snap Connector : BH363

This allows you to make a 9v battery with AA cells. The connector is the same as a 9v connector.

The good news is that this makes a great 9v battery, about 2500mAh compared to about 200mAh. It is inexpensive– the amazon price is high at $6. I just walked into Frys and bought these for $1.50 each. It makes a nice backup solution for 9v devices if you run out of 9v batteries. Also most 9v devices have a cable for connection rather than a battery “socket”, making these viable. It allows you to stay out of expensive 9v rechargeables and standardize more with AA’s. There MAY be some AAA versions of these holders that might fit in 9v spaces on the device, but I haven’t looked.

The bad news is that they won’t fit into the usual 9v space, making you have to duct tape the thing to your device, and they consume a lot of AA’s.

Keep the voltages in mind: 6 x 1.5v = 9v (alkalines) 8 x 1.5v = 12v 6 x 1.2v = 7.2v (nimh) 8 x 1.2v = 9.6v Using 6 1.2′s and 2 1.5′s in the 8-cell holder gives 9v exactly.

Apparently, 9v devices usually work with quite a wide range of voltages, although 9.6v is about max for them. The 12v one, although bad for 9v devices, might be otherwise useful.

Thought you’d be interested if you haven’t see these yet. – P.B.

Odds ‘n Sods:

One of the Ryans over at the great Total Survivalist blog has posted a pre-release review of my upcoming novel, Liberators. (The novel is scheduled for release on October 21st, 2014.) Bottom line: He rated it “excellent”, and called it “probably the best book in the series.” – JWR

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Just ten days and counting to the release of Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt? (September 12, 2014.) – JWR

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Drought in Spain means massive olive oil shortage in months ahead

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Strategy irony: Obama declares ‘National Preparedness Month,’ ‘PrepareAthon’. – G.G.

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Philadelphia Police Confiscating Thousands of Families Homes. – G.P.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law … that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.” H. L. Mencken

August In Precious Metals, by Steven Cochran of Gainesville Coins.

Welcome to SurvivalBlog’s Precious Metals Month in Review, where we take a look at “the month that was” in precious metals. Each month, we cover the price action of gold and silver, and we examine the “what” and “why” behind those numbers.

The July closing price for precious metals were:

Gold: $1280

Silver: $20.38

Platinum: $1456

Palladium: $870

August began on a Friday, with non-farm payrolls coming in far below expectations. Gold jumped $15 to regain the losses taken on July 31, while stocks tanked 2%, as investors moved into dollars. On the 5th, gold saw a $20 jump on fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite the dollar rallying at the same time.

Geopolitics were the name of the game in August, as gold rode a crisis-driven rally into the middle of the month until a failed smackdown on the 15th. Gold recovered within hours, but the rally had been stopped. Gold’s high closing price for the month was $1312, which was actually hit three times– on the 7th, 13th, and 14th of August. Silver eased throughout August, dropping over a dollar by the end of the month.

Thin trading volumes in all markets, which are normal in August, added to volatility. When volumes are low, trades that normally don’t affect the index numbers have more of an effect.

Precious Metals Market Drivers in August

UKRAINE

Geopolitical risks and economic sanctions continued to buffet European markets in August, in a roller coaster ride of escalation and de-escalation. On August 6th, Putin announced retaliatory sanctions on the E.U. and U.S., in response to the sanctions the West imposed after the shootdown of a civilian airliner.

As the Ukrainian Army pushed back the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, Russia gave up trying to arrange a ceasefire and decided to send over 200 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid into rebel-held Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine without Ukrainian permission. In what may have been a provocation aimed to test Kiev’s resolve, a Russian convoy of 10 APCs and supporting vehicles crossed into Ukraine while Western reporters watched. The Ukrainian Army claimed to have destroyed multiple Russian vehicles in its territory the next day, a charge Russia denied.

Late in the month, Ukrainian forces captured a Russian paratrooper company that had crossed the border in a wooded area, apparently by accident. What wasn’t an accident was rebel main battle tanks suddenly appearing near the Ukrainian coast, crossing over from Russia far from the nearest rebel-held areas. President Poroshenko of Ukraine and President Putin of Russia met in Kiev, Belarus, for talks to defuse the situation, with little progress.

This meeting was apparently so Putin, an ex-KGB colonel, could meet Poroshenko and decide how far he could be pushed. Russian Army troops invaded Ukraine, far from any rebel territory, in an apparent bid to open a land route to Russian-annexed Crimea. Another offensive was reported near Donetsk, as Russian troops, backed by artillery firing from Russian territory and advanced anti-aircraft missile systems, try to break the Ukrainian siege of the rebel-held city. Reporters have seen Russian tanks more advanced than any owned by Ukraine battling Ukrainian army forces. Rebel troops could not have obtained such advanced weaponry from overrun Ukrainian army bases, showing that Putin has decided he doesn’t care if the West knows the Russian Army is fighting inside Ukraine or not.

EUROZONE DEFLATION

The loss to European businesses from the sanctions against Russia, combined with the Russian sanctions against the EU, put the European economy on a fragile footing in August. Italy slid back into recession, adding to the worries. The euro traded near 11-month lows for most of the month, which in turn boosted the dollar. A strong dollar means fewer dollars are needed to buy an ounce of gold, which lowers its price. Despite the dollar rally, gold managed more than one large move upwards during the month.

One sign of European deflation is that the German 10-year bond is yielding less than 1%, while the bonds of “sick” economies, like Italy and Spain, are trading close to, or below, the yield of the 10-year U.S. Treasury note. This may be the market expressing its doubts over the U.S. government’s ability to pay its debts. Why else would bankrupt Spain be able to sell debt cheaper than the U.S.?

MIDDLE EAST

Gold saw safe haven demand, as the U.S. conducted airstrikes from drones and U.S. Navy fighters in northern Iraq against the terrorist army known as The Islamic State. Formerly known as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), they were using captured American-made tanks and artillery to attack Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as carrying out an extermination campaign against Iraqi Christians and Yezidis.

The U.S. airstrikes broke up the offensive and caused ISIS to revert back to the insurgent tactics of car bombs and blending in with the population. They later released a video of them beheading an American photojournalist that they had captured in Syria in 2012 and swore vengeance against the U.S. The American government has responded by preparing to expand the air offensive into Syria to hit ISIS targets.

This puts the U.S. into the position of assisting the Assad government of Syria, which it is trying to overthrow, by attacking the strongest anti-Syrian rebel faction, who has stolen American-supplied military equipment from the Iraqi Army and moderate Syrian rebels. U.S. planes are bombing U.S.-built tanks.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel and Hamas finally agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire in Gaza, with both sides declaring victory. The death toll in this latest war totals over 2000 Palestinians and 68 Israelis. Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has been criticized over his leadership in the crisis by opponents on the left and the right.

The government of Libya has been on the losing end of battles with tribal rebels, but “mystery jets” struck several rebel targets in the last week of August. To the surprise of many, it wasn’t the work of NATO or the U.S. but of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. was irritated that it was not included in the operation, but having Arab governments cleaning up the messes in their own back yards is something we should be applauding.

All of this fighting led to an unusual August rally for gold.

On The Retail Front

The Royal Canadian Mint has replaced its classic 100oz silver bar with a new .9999 fine silver 100oz bar. This has rapidly become a popular item for those looking for unquestioned quality in their large silver bars. For those who invest in pre-1933 U.S. gold coins, Gainesville Coins has recently expanded its selection.

In a story showing the bad publicity you can get by ignoring what the customer wants, news circulated the web about how the company who produced the commissioning coins for the amphibious assault ship USS Somerset outsourced the work to China. Once the artist of the coins found out, he immediately notified the commanding officer of the USS Somerset, who had the coins destroyed before the commissioning.

Market Buzz

WESTERN REPORTS OF PLUMMETING CHINESE GOLD DEMAND EXAGGERATED

The Western media is full of reports how Chinese gold demand has seen a major drop. There are several reasons not to believe this:

  1. Reports are comparing volumes to last year, which saw a frenzy of gold buying unequaled in decades. When viewed over a more appropriate timeframe, demand is still quite healthy.
  2. Western mainstream media believes that imports through Hong Kong are total imports. That simply isn’t true. The communist government in Beijing became concerned about Western reporters going through the numbers to try and discover how much gold the Chinese central bank was buying for its gold reserves. They have started importing the gold directly into Beijing, and also through Shanghai, which they want to build into the world’s main gold hub.
  3. China is allowing more banks, including foreign ones, to import gold this year.

Speaking of the Chinese, Casey Research talks about all the gold moving into Asia, never to return, in the article “We’re Ready to Profit in the Coming Correction – Are You?” Also at Casey Research is “Top 7 Reasons I’m Buying Silver Now.

David Stockman talks about how nothing at all has been done to curb the abuses of the Wall Street megabanks, even after the government has given them $4 trillion of taxpayer money, in “Wall Street Isn’t Fixed: TBTF Is Alive And More Dangerous Than Ever.

Eric Sprott talksabout how the COMEX is corrupted to allow Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and others to manipulate paper gold prices, and the health of the physical gold market.

Peter Schiff has announced that his radio show will be ending a four-year run and moving to the Internet, changing to a video blog. One of Schiff’s more popular articles this month has been “Former Mob Boss Says Avoid Wall St., Buy Physical Gold.”

While Europe struggles to avoid falling into a deflationary pit, more and more economists are worried that Yellen is asleep at the switch in the U.S., and we’re facing a sudden increase in inflation that the Fed won’t be able to halt without destroying the economy (any more than they already have).

Alisdair Macleod asks, “What if China and Russia Succeed in Going Off the Dollar?

Large platinum company, Lonmin, is struggling to restructure itself to survive a $600 million loss caused by the five-month long strike by mineworkers in South Africa. The unions have already threatened to strike again if any workers are laid off (after they got a 140% pay raise), and the government has also threatened the company if it closes any mines. Curious how, when asked directly, neither the union nor the government wanted to take over the mines themselves. If they think that they are making millions of dollars of profit, why not?

Looking Ahead

The markets will start picking up near the end of next month, as the wedding and festival season in India starts cranking up. Even though the Indian government hasn’t relaxed the restrictions on gold imports, that gold is still getting into the country. Smuggling is still increasing, and the police can’t stop even 1/10th of it. That gold is still being bought somewhere before being smuggled in, which means physical gold demand is still holding up. We wondered what happened to the smuggled gold that they did catch, and this is what we found.

September is traditionally a big month for gold. Have you kept your powder dry?

Let’s end this month’s column with a news story that shows even billionaires can see some of the dangers facing today’s fragile society.

Scot’s Product Review: Work Sharp

I used to dread sharpening things. Sometimes I would go look for another knife, hoping it would be sharp rather than fixing the one in hand. Other times, I would just make do with the dull one. I’ve sometimes thought that my sharpening phobia might have something to do with how my dad was able to make anything sharp with one of those round axe stones that are coarse on one side and fine on the other with a finger groove around it. He could apply some oil and make short work of most any cutting implement. He passed away, though, before he had time to teach me everything he knew. Sharpening was one of the things I missed out on learning.

I tried to teach myself, but I had a lot of trouble with this. Over the years, I went through an assortment of stones, files, laps, steels, jigs, sand paper, and what not. I finally hit the point where I can do a fair to middling job, thank goodness. I think what helped me the most was working with one of the jigs that hold a stone at a set angle. You start with a coarse stone and work your way down to a medium one and then a fine one. I discovered that even I could get a steak knife scalpel sharp using a jig, and that’s really satisfying.

Using this tool taught me at least three things about sharpening. First, you need to judge how coarse a sharpening tool to start with. If what you are working on is really dull, you will waste time and frustrate yourself if you don’t use something aggressive in the beginning. I was usually afraid to use the really coarse stuff. The second is that you simply can’t let the tool wobble while you stroke the edge. If you do, you won’t get a sharp edge, you will get a dull round one. That’s why jigs and guides are so popular. They let us sharpen without wobbling and making things worse than they are. The third bit of knowledge is the importance of patience. You have to spend enough time with each level of abrasive or you won’t get to sharp. After using the jig for a while, I decided to try sharpening without it. I worked really hard being consistent and discovered that even I could do it, though it took concentration and effort.

Even though I have finally reached a point of being able to keep things reasonably sharp, it is still a lot of work. My ears always perk up whenever I hear about something that will let me do a task faster and with less work, so when someone I respect told me about the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener. I decided to take a look. When I poked around the videos on the Work Sharp web site I heard Dan Dovel, the engineer who designed it, say “You don’t have to know what you are doing to use this thing.” That sounded pretty good to me. The Amazon price of about $62 also sounded good.

The Work Sharp is an interesting tool. Think of a hand-held belt sander. It uses ½ inch wide belts. It also comes with some guides to help you keep your tools at the same angle as you sharpen them. Bench belt sanders are a popular tool for knife makers and others who want to put a good edge on a blade quickly. A compact, portable hand-held belt sander is one of those ideas that I’m sure a lot of people think they should have come up with, too, when they saw the Work Sharp.

To use it, the first thing you do is pick the right grit. It comes with three different belts– an 80 grit one, a 220 grit one, and a 6,000 grit one. The 80 grit one is for a really, really dull knife (and I had some of those) or for things like lawn mower blades or shovels. Yes, you can sharpen shovels, and when you do, you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner. If your knife isn’t extremely dull, you will probably want to use the medium grit belt, though if that doesn’t work, try the coarse belt.

Next, you select the guide that has the correct angles for the tool you are working on. You get two guides with the Work Sharp. One has a 25 degree bevel for outdoors knives, and the other has a 20 degree bevel for kitchen knives. The 25 degree one also has guides for scissors

When I got mine, the first thing I did was attack the kitchen knives, especially some old ones handed down by my mother-in-law. I’ll admit that I am far more motivated at keeping the Spyderco I carry all the time sharp than I have been with kitchen knives, especially the ones from my mother-in-law. This is nothing against my mother-in-law (just in case my wife is checking up on me). These knives are made of steel that holds the edge for a long time, but once they get dull, they are tough to sharpen. Our other kitchen knives are a lot easier to sharpen, but don’t hold the edge as long. That’s kind of a trade-off with knives, I fear.

I went through each grit with the first knife, as I was impatient to see how well it worked. It is more efficient when doing several knives to do all of them on each grit and then change to the next belt. It isn’t hard to change the belts, but batch processing almost always saves time in any endeavor. To change a belt, remove the guide, push the tension roller in and turn it to lock it in the retracted position, and slip on a belt. Then release the tension belt and pop the guide back on.

The first knife, which was VERY dull, came out quite sharp. It might even be called scary sharp. It easily shaved hair off of my arm and sliced through newsprint without drag. It also smoothly went across a fingernail– a test I use to see if the blade has dull spots.

I did have to do some work on these knives though, as I was changing the angle of their bevels from the original one to the ones on the Work Sharp guide. That’s normal with any system that uses a guide. Your knife might be cut on a 22.5 degree bevel, and your system, like the Work Sharp, gives you a choice of either 25 or 20 degrees. If you want an exact match to a bevel, you have to find a tool with an adjustable guide or learn to do it by hand.

Another interesting issue is that since you are sharpening with a belt sander, the bevel you make is slightly convex. That’s because the belt has some give to it and it wraps a bit around the blade. If you sharpen on a stone or some other flat abrasive, you get a flat bevel. If you sharpen on a spinning wheel, like a bench grinder, you get convex edge. All this means that the first time you sharpen a knife on the Work Sharp, you will spend a bit more time than you will need to later as you are reshaping the bevel to an angle that matches the Work Sharp guide as well as making it into a convex bevel, if it isn’t already. Take all this as warning too. If you go back and forth between sharpening methods, you will spend time getting back to the bevel angle and shape that goes with whatever tool you are using. This is true of any change in sharpening methods, not just when you use a Work Sharp.

Serrated knives are very popular these days, both in the kitchen and in the pocket. You can sharpen them on the Work Sharp as well. The technique shown on their videos is to simply lay the flat backside of the knife against the belt. This works, though I would prefer to get the belt into the individual serrations and sharpen each one from the bevel side. Most serrations are too narrow, however. It might be nice if they made a narrow belt for that purpose.

You can sharpen a bunch of other things with the Work Sharp. I’ve already mentioned I’m a fan of sharp shovels. I have to go through sod and roots fairly often, and a sharp shovel really helps. They dull quickly though. I usually use a bench grinder to get most of the metal off and finish it with the coarse belt. Lawn mower blades, loppers, and most other garden tools are also good fodder for the Work Sharp. One thing I wonder, though, is if they could come up with a coarser belt to use on these sorts of things so you could go a bit faster.

Besides sharpening, there are a bunch of other things you can do with a belt sander. Many of the things you might do with a file can be done with the Work Sharp. It is very handy for gunsmithing. One of my pet peeves with my beloved 1911 pistols is that they usually have some very sharp edges. These can make you bleed and tear up fine leather holsters. I used to take files to those sharp edges, but now I use the Work Sharp. I just take off the guides and run the belt over the offending parts. I’ve also used it to help fit grip safeties. Gunsmiths use bench belt sanders for these jobs, but I don’t have space or funds for one of those, so the Work Sharp is a boon. You can use it for most any polishing or deburring function, and not just for guns.

I feared that the belts wouldn’t last long, but I am very pleasantly surprised. The closest I’ve come to wearing one out has been the coarse one, which gets used a lot on shovels and stuff.

Work Sharp also offers a super version of this, too. It’s the Worksharp KO. I haven’t used it, but it offers an adjustable angle for the knife bevel and a wider selection of belts. It has a couple of optional attachments that make it even more versatile. It runs $130, and the options can add another $140. I’m afraid I’m going to want one.

As much as I’ve turned into a Work Sharp fan, I’m not saying that you don’t need to know how to sharpen things by hand. A Work Sharp depends on electricity. We are preppers, and we worry about that stuff. If electricity fails, you need to have the tools and know how to use them to sharpen things by hand. That means files and stones for a basic tool kit. If you really mess up an edge, files will save a huge amount of time. The stones will get you sharp once you set the angle with a file. You need coarse, medium, and fine ones at a minimum. and maybe even an extra fine and a leather strap to boot. The thing the Work Sharp will do is let you keep things sharp with minimal effort for as long as we have electricity. This, as that blonde lady says, is a good thing. Just don’t forget to keep up with manual skills. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Erie

Recipe of the Week: Green Tomato Pie, by OkieRanchWife

This is a great way to use green tomatoes on plants that just got hit with a freeze. I found it in an American Heritage Cookbook from 1978.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ pounds Green Tomatoes
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 4 tablespoons All Purpose Flour or Wondra Flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated Lemon Zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground Allspice
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • Pastry for 2 crust 9 inch pie, homemade or store bought (I cheat and use store bought)
  • Sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dunk green tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Peel and remove core. Or don’t skin them for a bit more fiber. Cut into ¼ inch slices. In a medium saucepan combine with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove slices from liquid and set aside. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, zest, nutmeg, allspice and salt into the liquid in the saucepan. Cook and stir until just boiling. Remove from heat. Add butter. Mix. Gently stir the slices. Cool for 10 minutes. While tomato mix is cooling line the pie plate with one prepared pie crust. Spoon in the tomato mixture. Place top crust over the tomatoes and adjust. Seal, crimp edges, cut slits to allow steam to escape from the baking pie. Sprinkle with additional sugar if wanted. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlogreaders? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Letter Re: NRA’s Commercial

Hugh,

I am a pastor in eastern Washington. I spent most of the early evening calling every Christian I know to relate an urgent e-mail request I received for prayer originating from northern Iraq, where a team of volunteers were reporting the taking of their city by ISIS. They were witnessing the systematic beheading of children and known Christians. They were asking for God’s help and strength not to run. After exhausting my address book and spending time on my face, I felt that I should go to SurvivalBlog, as I have done daily for some time. When I saw the commercial featuring Navy Seal Don Raso, his message echoed what I have been feeling for some time. The disintegration of hope and the loss of confidence in our leadership can be heard in the grocery store checkout line, gas station, at the water cooler, and at the dinner tables across America. Something precious seems to be slipping away. We must band together to strengthen what remains of our foundations. It’s time to take a stand! – SVM

Odds ‘n Sods:

By way of Mac Slavo’s excellent blog, comes a link to a thought-provoking piece by Dave Hodges: The Blueprint for World War III. – JWR

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Here’s an interesting piece over at Todd Savage’s Strategic Relocation blog: Bug out – Bush Pilot Training. – JWR

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Armed & dangerous: 89-year-old World War II veteran shoots armed robber. – G.G.

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These are the people that are supposed to be above reproach! Third Florida County Judge in Seven Months Faces DUI Charges. T.P.

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Charged with driving an unregistered car designed to resemble a police vehicle. – T.P.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“It is commonly believed that the rights of the American people come from the Constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth.” [Our rights are inalienable; they exist independently of government, not because of government.] – Jacob Hornberger