If we experience the kind of economic collapse experienced by Argentina and Russia in the last decade, Zimbabwe or the Weimar Republic before that, where will we get medical supplies and expertise? I began thinking of my father’s small-town practice and how self-sufficient he was. I thought about my Navy training and experience and the difficulties of rendering emergency medical care in isolated places with minimal supplies and no trained medical specialists for assistance. From that consideration, I have planned for my own and my family’s medical security. This book will help you do the same. The goal of this book is to help you to:
1. Recognize the signs of the impending collapse of the medical system.
2. Prepare yourself and others to be as healthy as possible.
3. Be more self-sufficient when medical issues do arise.
4. Learn to navigate the difficult world of health insurance when finding a physician.
5. Create a medical stockpile for times when supplies are not available.
The plane was going down fast, out of control. Dark green jungle was rushing up to meet them. He ordered Kelly to punch out. He heard the thick Plexi-glass canopy above his head explode, and braced his body against the hard blast of wind surging into the cockpit as his navigator shot into space. He yanked on his own ejection seat lever and felt the hard jolt that meant he, too, had made it out of the flaming aircraft.
Relieved, he saw that he had a good chute. Floating slowly down through the hot humid air, he watched Kelly’s billowing parachute disappear into the tropical trees. He saw his A-6 hit the top of a mountain several miles away and explode into huge pillars of thick black smoke.
He landed in a tall banyan tree, his parachute snagged on a forked limb. Dangling in the air underneath the torn white nylon panels, he could see small figures heading for the foot of the mountain. He knew he had to scramble down and find a place to conceal himself, fast. Groping, he inched his way, hand over hand, up the twisting risers of this chute, trying to grab hold of the trunk of the swaying tree. Hanging on to the rough rope with one hand, he leaned his weight toward the tree trunk and felt the limb holding his parachute peel away. He fell, headlong, fifty feet or so, hitting the ground so hard he could hear the bones in his back crack.
He struggled to get his survival radio out of the zippered pocket of his olive-drab flight suit, hoping to make some kind of contact with Kelly.
“Kelly, do you read? Over.”
The black radio crackled with static, but Kelly didn’t answer. He tried again, and then again. Nothing.
Forty-five minutes went by before he heard the planes. Then he saw them, “friendlies.” They know where I am, he thought, relieved. I’ll be out of here by morning.
“I’m on the ground okay,” he said into his now-damp radio, willing one of the aircraft circling overhead to hear him.
“Roger, Red. See you in the morning.”
The raspy voice was familiar. Nick Carpenter, from his own squadron.
It would be a long night. No sensation in his feet and legs, he began to drag himself around on his belly, trying to find Kelly. He told himself it was useless, that Kelly had landed on the opposite side of the mountain. But he knew he had to keep looking. Finally, exhausted, he made a halfhearted attempt to sleep, one ear listening through the darkness, straining to decipher the strange jungle noises. He could hear the distant thrashing sound that had to be machetes, hacking away at the tangled vines.
At dawn, he heard muffled voices coming up the side of the mountain. He was sure they were enemy soldiers, making their way to his hiding place. He searched the empty sky for the rescue planes, the helicopters from Thailand, the Jolly Greens. They’re usually pretty reliable, he said to himself. Where are they this morning?
The sun was almost directly overhead when the strange-looking little militiamen burst through the dense green underbrush, AK-47s at the ready. They chattered excitedly about their prize, a downed American pilot, an American “war criminal.”
While one of the militiamen trained an AK-47 on him, another one clumsily fashioned a blindfold from a piece of brown ragged burlap, and the tallest of the four men tied it roughly and firmly around his throbbing head, obscuring his vision. He struggled to get to his feet, but two of the soldiers grabbed him and held him while the third one bound his feet with heavy hemp rope, which cut into the flesh just above the ankles. They drew his hands up behind his shoulders until he thought his arms would leave their sockets and then pulled the rough ropes taut, leaving his hands dangling just below his shoulder blades. They dragged his aching body through the underbrush and threw him into the back of a rusty, dilapidated truck. An overpowering smell of gasoline made him nauseous and he thought he was going to pass out.
He was probably on his way to the infamous Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi, which he guessed would be about fifty miles away. Pilots had dubbed the old French prison that already held many of their fellow aviators the “Hanoi Hilton.”