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Travelers' Medical Resource: A guide to health & safety worldwide

Travelers’ Medical Resource: A guide to health & safety worldwide. William W.

Forgey. ICS Books, Merrillville, Indiana, 1990. 627 pages. $19.95. Far

From Help. Peter Steele. Cloudcap, Seattle, 1990. 241 pages, illustrated.

$14.95. Wilderness and Rural Life Support Guidelines. Edited by Robert J.

Koester. DBS Productions, Charlottesville, 1991. 56 pages, illustrated.

$4.95.

These three additions to the growing outdoor library might be called “take care of yourself’ books for the venturesome. Their usefulness is proportional to their size.

Dr. Forgey, Director of Herchmer Medical Consultants, has produced an encyclopedia of up-to-date, accurate information, which is a comprehensive and interesting reference for the traveller. The first 100 pages describe resources available around the world to help you cope with every crisis from death to taxes. I’ve not found so much valuable information in any other book. Another 100 pages cover problems faced while traveling by the handicapped, by young children, and those with chronic illnesses. Here again is a wealth of information. Sixty-three infectious diseases encountered in developed and third world countries are succinctly described. Recommended treatment is given for each. “Self-care” for many minor problems, and a handy list of medications and supplies occupy another 100 pages. The greater part of the book describes health and sanitation conditions in 219 countries, up-dated by the latest Travellers Advisories from the US State Department.

There are a few minor irritants: the Toll Free Data Base number touted on the cover is hard to locate in the text. Stock paragraphs are repeated for each country in describing malaria and other infections. Giardiasis, now a world-wide hazard, is treated too briefly.

This excellent book is highly readable and reflects much personal experience. It will be invaluable for preparing a trip. Its weight (2 lbs) might make it clumsy, but for extended travel it is strongly recommended.

Dr. Steele, a self-described medical iconoclast, has travelled extensively and knows whereof he writes. His book is small and compact (3×5 inches), and easily carried. He deals mainly and very well with injuries, but the section on illness is brief and limited. Specific treatments are described. The list of supplies and medications suggested for a first-aid kit and for a larger medical chest is appropriately based on the author’s experience and bias. It’s a handy little book to slip in your pack for a trip where help won’t be easily available.

In contrast to the preceding, the small loose leaf booklet by Dr. Koester and associates is little more than a checklist to remind you what to do in case of serious illness or injury. Minor problems are not included, Availability of resources like a radio, helicopter rescue, oxygen and a blood pressure cuff are assumed. I was surprised that the first page did not emphasize the ABC of first aid, and that no list of surgical supplies (splints, slings, bandages) is shown, although a small medical kit is. Twenty pages describe oxygen delivery systems, use of a helicopter, trauma and bum scoring and other subjects more appropriate for an aid center or hospital. This booklet won’t help you care for your companion far from help, but it will tell you what to think about. It would be most helpful for rescue personnel.

Charles S. Houston, M.D.