Knives, Blades and Needles, by Dr. Bob

There are some things in life that you just can’t go cheap on, and there are others that you can. This is an area that is mixed. As many other posts and reviews will tell you, a good survival knife is an invaluable tool that you absolutely cannot go cheap on. Going to Wal-Mart and buying the “Made in China” cheapo knife is going to potentially hurt you WTSHTF. Don’t do that, please don’t. But, with medical equipment, price does not equal performance. Most medical equipment is dirt cheap because it is nearly all disposable these days. That’s okay, medical equipment tends to get medical goop on it which you want to throw away rather than recycle. Let’s backtrack a little bit and do some explanations. Knives are for hunting, fishing, and cutting. They are not for medical use. They are too big, too thick, and too dangerous for medical work.

Blades [of the sort that I use] are for medical use. Most blades are also called scalpels, but I prefer the term blade because of the numbers assigned to them in medicine. An 11 blade is pointed and quite useful for incision and drainage of abscesses. Even without any numbing medication, and 11 blade can be one quick, painful stab towards a cure. A 10 or 15 blade has a rounded edge and is best for actually having to “cut” a person for a variety of medical reasons. Making incisions, operations, cutting out infected tissue, to name a few. Both types of blades are readily available online through places like (nice picture of both types found on this page) or farm supply stores.

Any good craft store also has replaceable blades like X-acto brand that work perfectly well as medical blades when sterilized with any decent flame. Needles in TEOTWAWKI need to be job specific and in the hands of those that know how to use them. It does you no good at all if you have all the needles and supplies for IVs, infusions, and anesthesia without anyone that can actually do the job. [From a liability standpoint,] I cannot actually tell you that the veterinary needles available easily at your local farm and ranch supply store are as good as the ones actually made for human use. But they can’t be worse than the Chinese junk we use daily at clinics and hospitals across the United States.  

So, the final word is this:  for survival, you need a knife and a great one at that.  For medical uses, disposable is perfectly acceptable just make sure you have enough for your group for a duration of time.  Put the medical instruments in the hands of the best “surgeon” available just like you would put the best knife in the hands of the best hunter available.  Spend your money wisely and plan well and you will find yourselves much better off WTSHTF.  Stay strong, – Dr. Bob

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is: