Introducing Survival Medicine Experts, Joe and Amy Alton
Joe and Amy Alton run Doom and Bloom, the leading survival medicine website. The website has since evolved into a full fledged brand, as Joe and Amy now have a podcast, YouTube channel, and line of medical kits. Joe and Amy aren’t just savvy marketers. They are both experts on survival medicine. In addition to their various media channels, Joe and Amy have shared their wisdom in The Survival Medicine Handbook and Alton’s Antibiotics and Infectious Disease. I am pleased to share with you the below interview transcript, which includes details about how they got started, what they believe to be the biggest threats, and what makes them so successful:
Starting Doom and Bloom
Bob: Joe, you’re a licensed physician, and Amy, you’re a registered nurse practitioner. The two of you have stated your mission is to put a medically prepared individual in every family for any disaster. What inspired you to offer your experience, products, and services to the prepper and survival communities?
Joe and Amy: We first became involved in the preparedness movement as a result of Hurricane Katrina. During that disaster, we saw that many sick and injured were beyond the reach of those medical personnel charged with first response (mostly due to flooding). It occurred to us that many who perished might have survived with the rapid action of a family member. So we began to write about ways to prevent the deaths and injuries that would be avoidable if there were people willing to get education, supplies, and training.
From writing articles on Survivalblog and other sites, we went to producing our own website at doomandbloom.net, a podcast (The Survival Medicine Hour) on blogtalkradio, and a YouTube channel called DrBones NurseAmy (after the nicknames we were given). We are known on Twitter as @preppershow. Later, we developed an entire line of medical kits that are specifically designed for first aid emergencies as well as long-term disaster scenarios at store.doomandbloom.net.
Bob: As a husband and wife duo, you’re able to address a wider range of topics. What’s your business partnership dynamic like? What has made it been so successful?
Joe and Amy: Amy’s the brains and brawn of the outfit; I’m just the pretty face! Seriously, we spend almost all our time together since we retired from active medical practice (we still maintain our medical licenses). There’s little we disagree on, which makes focusing on our mission that much easier. Our business is successful due to the popularity of our books on survival medicine and the good will of the preparedness community.
What Makes Amy and Joe Unique?
Bob: Amy, you have one of the largest medicinal herb gardens in the state of Florida. How did you first discover the importance of herbal remedies and essential oils? Do you have any patient success stories you find particularly exciting or inspiring?
Amy: Joe and I are avid gardeners, and we always have something interesting growing on our property. Currently, we have bay, cinnamon, ylang-ylang, coconut, neem, avocado, and lychee trees. Our herbs include comfrey, cardamom, clove, lemon balm, peppermint, and many others. We don’t claim cure-all properties for our herbs, however. You won’t hear us write about this herb or that herb curing cancer, diabetes, and psoriasis at once.
We have used a number of oils, like eucalyptus, in steam inhalation during flu season, have successfully used clove oil as a dental anesthetic and to produce temporary filling cement, and much more. Although we were trained as a conventional nurse practitioner and medical doctor, we believe that the survival medic must use all the tools in the medical woodshed if they are to succeed when everything else fails.
Bob: Joe, I understand you have quite the collection of 19th century medical textbooks. Did this collection start as a hobby that ultimately helped your career? How do you think the study of these centuries-old textbooks helped you better understand how to prepare for grid-down situations?
Joe: I’m a huge history buff, and my collection started there, with a history of England written the year George Washington was born (1732) and a civil war history written by the Confederate Vice-President the year after it ended (1866). I began to receive medical books from bygone eras as gifts, and have since collected enough to fill bookcases in two rooms. What people don’t realize is that 19th century conventional medicine was essentially what we call herbalism today. Medical books from the era are filled with herbal remedies. If a disaster throws us back medically to an earlier time, we have to know what plants in our environment will have medicinal benefits. Even if you’re not a fan, a long-term scenario will surely cause you to run out of normal modern medicines.
The Biggest Threats on the Horizon
Bob: Pandemic, civil unrest, and terrorist attacks are all scenarios mentioned in The Survival Medicine Handbook that could limit the availability of modern medicine. You have shared a wealth of advice and information about how to prepare for many scenarios. Is there one in particular that you worry about most? If not, have you found that your readership or podcast listeners are particularly worried about an individual catastrophic event?
Joe and Amy: Our listeners run the gamut in terms of concerns for the future. Different regions have their specific concerns, like earthquakes on the West Coast or tornadoes in Tornado Alley. We worry about pandemic disease, which could quickly unravel the fabric of society. In 1918, 100 million died in the “Spanish Flu” pandemic. The disease carried a 2% death rate. Ebola carries about a 50% death rate, dependent on the strain. As viruses commonly mutate, an Ebola strain that suddenly becomes transmissible through the air could become a society-ender very quickly. Although we are better equipped to deal with infectious disease than we were, large community-wide epidemics will still overwhelm existing resources.
Another issue that concerns us is an Electromagnetic Pulse Event (EMP). A single nuclear detonation 200 miles over St. Louis would knockout transformers over the majority of the United States and throw us into chaos. It’s thought that it would take more than a decade to replace them, if the capacity to produce them existed at all.
I’m sure that makes us sound like alarmists. We’re not, but it makes sense to have food, water, shelter, and medical supplies in the unlikely case that such an event occurs. We’re not saying that next week your world will end, but the chances increase over the course of a lifetime. Add to that your children’s lifetimes, and the chances increase even more. Hopefully, enough that you’ll realize the importance of being prepared.
Government vs. Self-Reliance
Bob: You mentioned in The Survival Medicine Handbook that in the event of a catastrophe, the likelihood of getting help from municipal government employees is lower than we might expect. Where do you think we should draw the line between self-reliance and government reliance?
Joe and Amy: There is an inverse relationship between reliance on government and self-reliance. The more you expect the state to care for you, the less likely you’ll be able to care for yourself and your loved ones. We are so used to having a safety net provided by our government that we have lost sight of what it would take to survive without it. As the nation becomes more polarized politically, the line between self-reliance and government reliance is being drawn closer and closer to self-reliance, and maybe that’s the way it should be.
Best Survival Products
Bob: You’ve reviewed and developed a number of survival products. Is there one product or product category that you think is essential to survival in grid-down scenarios?
Joe and Amy: Yes, and it’s not even considered a medical supply by most. Water disinfection is truly a high priority if you find yourself off the grid, so a good water filter like the LifeStraw, Sawyer, or Berkey are important if you expect to survive without modern water treatment facilities. Bad water can cause life-threatening disease, whether through drinking directly or food preparation. Don’t believe it? More soldiers died of diseases like dysentery in the Civil War than by bullets or shrapnel. Even today, a cholera epidemic is killing people and sickening hundreds in Mozambique, Africa. If you can assure safe drinking water, you’ll have gone a long way to keeping your family healthy.
Of course, we feel that everyone should have a medical kit. You’ll find an entire line designed personally by us for survival and first aid emergencies at store.doomandbloom.net. For long-term survival, you might even consider a dental kit (we’ve designed one of those too).
Bob: At the end of the day, prepping is about education. It’s important we both are knowledgeable about potential threats and have the information we need to prepare for them. At this point, you host a podcast, have written books and blog posts, and teach classes. What method of education do you find to be the most effective in preparing your students?
Joe and Amy: Everyone learns best in their own way. Some people are readers, others like to listen to our podcast, still others are fans of our YouTube channel. They are often entirely different groups of preppers. We don’t have a preferred way for people to learn, but we do have a favorite way to teach: In person, demonstrating techniques that we can impart to our students under direct supervision. We’re happiest when we can physically see people learning to place tourniquets. Rapid action saves lives, but only when proper education and training is obtained.
Bob: In interviewing folks within the prepping and survival communities, I’ve found that all of them have engaged in healthy collaborations. Aside from your own collaboration, is there anyone you work with on a recurring basis? Have you had any mentors or inspirations along your Doom and Bloom journey?
Joe and Amy: It surprises us that so few physicians and nurse practitioners are willing to write about preparedness. We can honestly say that, on some topics (fish antibiotics, for example), our writings were the first by a doctor or nurse practitioner. We guess that this is because those in active practice are worried about going outside the conventional medical wisdom. Could they lose their license? As we are retired, that is not a concern for us; it is secondary to our mission. Although we can’t say we have a mentor, we hope that we have been mentors to young medical professionals on their preparedness journey.
We have enjoyed working with a number of fellow prepper and survival experts, past and present. We consider people like Charley Hogwood (author of the Survival Group Handbook), Mykel Hawke, Dave Canterbury, Jim Cobb, Scott Hunt, Lisa Bedford, David Kobler, Tom and Glen Martin, Todd Sepulveda, James Wesley Rawles, James Talmadge Stevens, and so many others to be inspirational in terms of what they have done for the preparedness community. Some we’ve never met and others are good friends.
Staying in Touch
Bob: How do you suggest readers and listeners stay in touch with the two of you? Do you have any specific projects or classes you’d like people to know about?
Joe and Amy: We can connect in a number of ways:
- For over 1000 articles, videos, and podcasts on medical preparedness, go to DoomandBloom.net. You can use the contact form to get in touch with us personally. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any of our content!
- Follow us on Twitter @Preppershow
- Listen to The Survival Medicine Hour on blogtalkradio.com
- Go to YouTube and subscribe to DrBones NurseAmy channel
- Join a hands-on class or put together a group and let us know where you are. We travel the country teaching principles of medical preparedness; our next class with openings is in Kodak, TN (near Knoxville) on May 5th. It’s a whole day of hands-on training. For more info, go to Store.DoomandBloom.net.
- See us at preparedness events, survival expos, and homesteading shows. We’ll be at The Mother Earth News Fair near Asheville, NC the weekend of April 27th.
Bob: Thank you both for taking the time to speak with me. I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for the community and wish you both the best.
Joe and Amy: No, Bunker Bob, thank you for the opportunity to reach out to your audience. Allow us to leave them with a message: Do what you can, where you are, with what you have; have no doubt, you will save lives.
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