Archive for the ‘First Aid’ Category

Ideas for an Herbal First Aid kit for the Washington DC March

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

A few people have recently asked me what first aid items they should bring to the January 21 march in DC.

Please note, I am non-partisan at this (or any) event. I am there to assist anyone who needs help and is willing to work with me.

I have a much more detailed handout here. It is geared for street medics, but has useful information for anyone wanting to use herbal medicine in first aid situations. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just some ideas for folks to consider.
For most folks, you will only need a small fraction of the medicines and supplies below. I am including more information for those planning on treating a wider array of people, a large group one is traveling with, or practicing as street medic.

Most of these treatments are symptom relieving, since the march is only for one day. You are less likely to be treating infections, though you could offer support and advice.

People are often anxious and tired at these events having traveled a distance. All the excitement and people can induce anxiety and fatigue.

If you are going with a group of people ask to see if folks have the medicines they take regularly, such as inhalers or anti-depressants. If you are going to be helping others, it is important that you take care of yourself. Also, have the cell phone numbers of all the people you will be with in case you get separated.

If you are going to going to be part of any demonstrations outside from the march you may be arrested. If there is any chance you will be detained, have support people know of your intentions. They should be folks who do not intend to get arrested.

Police at the RNC in Cleveland.

Police at the RNC in Cleveland.

Fire Cider

A popular remedy at these events are the various kinds of ‘fire ciders’. These are a combination of spicy herbs (notably cayenne and other hot peppers) in a base of vinegar. People drink them to feel a sense of warmth. But one should not drink too much as they can cause flushing and sweating. This can drop body temperature without realizing it. Small amounts are okay, but avoid drinking enough to become too hot or sweaty.

First aid patches

First aid patches

Considerations

  1. Red Cross/Street medic patch-If you are working as a street medic or with a large group where not everyone knows you, it is helpful to have some kind of identification to let them know you are there to help. It is important to note that occasionally street medics, who are easily identifiable, are arrested or detained by law enforcement. This is a part of any street medic training. If you not specifically doing this kind of work, it is very unlikely this would transpire.
  2. Snacks-one of the most helpful things you can bring are snacks for other people. People are often forgetful about bringing food and get caught up in the march where it is difficult to find any. Bring lightweight, easy to distribute foods such as ‘power’ or candy bars or dried fruit.
  3. Water-Especially in cold weather, people forget to bring water, but all the walking can dehydrate people. It is helpful to pass out bottles of water.

Preparations-Type of Medicines

  • To-go bottles-If you are going to give liquid medicines (tinctures, glycerites, etc.) you will need to have containers to put them in. Consider bringing along small plastic bottles with leak proof caps to give away medicines.
  • Labels-to write the ingredients of whatever you give people in the bottles.
  • Disposable Cups-to dispense liquid medicines and teas.
  • Water-to dilute the medicines and for cough syrups so they don’t stick to the cup.
  1. Capsules-easy to distribute
  2. Compresses, poultices and other external medicines-these can be difficult to apply when people are bundled up.
  3. Cough drops-similar to cough syrups but easier to distribute
  4. Cough syrups-herbs in a demulcent base these feel good on sore throats as people may be shouting and also useful for coughs.
  5. Glycerites-helpful alternative to tinctures
  6. Teas-difficult to carry around, but warm tea is a wonderful thing on a cold day. Consider having a wagon with a cooler to keep the tea warm and have disposable cups
  7. Tinctures-make sure to ask people if they have difficulty with alcohol before administering
  8. Vinegars-the base of ‘fire ciders’ and an alternative to tinctures
Water and paper cups to dispense medicines

Water and paper cups to dispense medicines

 

Small plastic to-go bottles and labels

Small plastic to-go bottles and labels

Common Health Issues and a Few Herbs for Each

This is a basic list of some health issues and a few herbal medicines to treat them. If you are traveling with a group, it is helpful to know which complications you are most likely to encounter. Do a little research on each of the medicines you plan on bringing to understand how to best employ them.
Note that most of these are single herbs, it can be helpful to make some combination medicines as well.

There are many more that could be added, but hopefully this offers some ideas. ‘Spp.’ indicates a number of species of the genus can be used

Water coolers to keep tea hot

Water coolers to keep tea hot

  1. Allergies
  • Eyebright (Euphrasia spp.)
  • Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
  • Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
  1. Anxiety/Stress
  • Anemone (Anemone spp.)
  • Blue vervain (Verbena hastata)
  • Kava kava (Piper methysticum)
  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
  • Skullcap (Scutellaria spp.)
  • Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
  1. Asthma
  • Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
  1. Cold– One of the most common problems during winter demonstrations is people getting cold, which can lead to discomfort and other health issues.
  1. Cough
  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
  • Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva)
  • Thyme (Thymus spp.)
  • Wild cherry (Prunus serotina)
  1. Dehydration
  • Tea
  • Water
  1. Digestive disorders– depending on what the condition is, there are various medicines to take.
  • Activated charcoal-adsorb unwanted substances in the GI tract
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)-calming for an upset stomach
  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)-calming for an upset stomach
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)-GI inflammation
  • Oregon graperoot (Berberis spp.)-any type of GI infection
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)-nausea
  • Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)-GI cramps
  1. Exacerbations of pre-existing condition
  • The medicine depends on the symptoms
  1. Antiinflammatories
  • Arnica (Arnica spp.)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.)
  • Willow (Salix spp.)
  1. Panic attacks
  • Anemone (Anemone spp)
  • Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
  1. Pain-various
  • Black haw (Viburnum prunifolium)-antispasmodic
  • Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia piscupula)-general pain remedy
  • Kava kava (Piper methysticum)-skeletal muscle relaxant and sedative
  • Pedicularis (Pedicularis spp)-skeletal muscle relaxant
  • Silk tassel (Garrya spp)-menstrual cramps
  • Skullcap (Scutellaria spp.)-general pain remedy and sedative
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)-general pain remedy and sedative
  1. Sniffles, Runny nose
  • Gumweed (Grindelia spp)
  • Wolfberry (Lycium spp)
  • Yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica)
  1. Soft tissue injuries (sprains and strains)
  • Antiinflammatory herbs
  • Elastic bandage
  1. Sore throats
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.)
  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
  • Osha (Ligusticum porteri)
  • Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva)
Goggles

Goggles

Non-Herbal Supplies

  1. Bandana-in case of gas or pepper spray
  2. Disposable gloves
  3. Goggles-in case of gas or pepper spray
  4. NSAIDs-for headaches or other inflammatory problems
Disposable gloves

Disposable gloves

Carrying Your Supplies

  1. Organization is important, especially if you expect to need medicines or supplies in a hurry.
  2. Have medicines organized in a way that works best for you. For instance you might have all pain remedies in one bag or the tinctures may be in alphabetical order.
  3. Don’t put too many medicines all together. Keep them in separate plastic bags in cases any spill.
  4. Remember, anything you are carrying can be confiscated if you are arrested. This is only likely if you are practicing as a street medic.

Resources

  • Black Cross Collective– very useful information, especially about tear gas and pepper spray
  • Paper Revolution, street medic guide-There is useful information on this site, especially the links to other street medic groups. I would avoid the information on this page about the Rainbow Gathering CALM first aid area, it is very dated (circa 1989).
  • com-I have a number of handouts covering different aspects of first aid and herbal medicine.

My Experience at Burning Man 2016 or I went to Burning Man so you don’t have to go

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
7Song in a Burning Man rickety tower

7Song in a Burning Man rickety tower

Amble to the Preamble

This blog was initially meant to be a reasonably succinct discussion of my thoughts and feelings about Burning Man. Instead it is has become a dissertation-sized exposition on this event.

If you are mainly interested in reading and viewing photos from Burning Man, jump to the sections below that interest you.

Burning Man

Burning Man

Preamble

After many years of hearing tales of Burning Man, this was the year I finally attended. And while I have not held a fervid desire to go, I have always had a background curiosity. And this year the opportunity arose. But before I go into the events leading to my Burning Man debut, I want to make a few caveats before proceeding.

Some Caveats and Explanations, Or, I went to Burning Man so You Don’t Have to Go.

Burning Man

Burning Man

I have heard about Burning Man for many years. And while it never really seemed like my personal type of entertainment, I was intrigued. It is one of those unique US events, and I am one of those people who will to a place to be a part of a discussion.

This blog is about my Burning Man experience. I am a bit reticent writing this as I have mixed feelings about my time there and the event as a whole. I know many people who greatly enjoy it and I don’t mean to be disrespectful. But it will become obvious that it was not exactly to my tastes.

This was my first (and likely only) time at Burning Man and I realize that if it was someplace I frequented I might have felt more community and more included. Also, I tend to compare it with the Rainbow Gathering, and while they are vastly different events, having gone to the Rainbow Gathering for so many years, I cannot ignore my internal comparisons (more about that below). Also, one of my favorite aspects of being anywhere is enjoying the plant and animal life. And at Burning Man, besides human animals and eating vegetables, neither plant nor animal were to be found. And lastly, I reckon it should be noted I am not much of an art aficionado. The accompanying photos probably make this obvious as another person would have photos of the marvelous art cars, illuminated statues and fantastical structures. On a more personal note, I am a bit sound sensitive and Burning Man is a cacophonous fusion of sound. I knew about all of these before I went, so I hope I don’t appear to be complaining. But in noting these I hope it offers a sense of my perspective.

The Space Whale

The Space Whale

A Thought is Hatched

Here is how I happened to finally go. In 2016 I was taking a year off of running my own school and would be traveling. I was teaching along the west coast from August through October and had a spot open. I called the HAALo herb shop in Nevada City, CA to see if I could teach there and they said it was a bad time since many people would be going to Burning Man. And the thought slowly occurred to me ‘maybe I should go’. I knew I would be in the area and I now had some planning time.

I knew that it was difficult to get tickets, so I called up my friend and Rainbow Gathering comrade Tom Curotto (Tom from CALM) to enlist his expertise. He was very helpful untangling the complexities of purchasing a ticket. He said he would try to get me a ticket as a friend since he goes as a firefighter each year. By February it seemed that strategy would not work and so he helped again by having both of us try to purchase tickets when they went on sale for the general public.

Sunset at Burning Man

Sunset at Burning Man

So on that day, Tom in Idaho, and myself in Ithaca called at the proscribed time hoping that one of us would get through. And somehow, I did. I eventually went through a set of automated questions and got me my ticket. Frankly I was elated since I had gone this far, I wanted to go all the way through.

The information from the official website, said they sold all 30,000 tickets in 30 minutes, and so I felt lucky in my transaction. There are about 70,000 (yes, seventy thousand) people at Burning Man in 2016. I am not sure about what happens with the other tickets, though there are many volunteers.

Of course the downside was the price, All told the ticket cost $531.57. Yup, a buttload of dough. Here’s the breakdown of the ticket price; the entry ticket cost $390, a vehicle pass was $80. There was a $12 charge to mail the ticket, a $35.37 Nevada Entertainment Tax and a $14 service charge. So my enthusiasm was a bit tempered by all these seemingly extraneous costs, but I was also glad to finally get this part of the worry out of the way.

And then began the preparation. There are a number of websites with useful details, and I know a few people who also gave me helpful suggestions.

One thing that was commonly suggested to me was to stay at a well-established camp. I originally wanted to go and practice first aid, but I don’t have a degree (nurse, EMT, etc) and was not allowed to work in one of the official first aid stations. So I sought a camp where people treated participants (known as ‘Burners’). The main one was the Heebeegeebees healer camp (HBGBs) and I went through their application process and got accepted. To stay there and use their facilities, mainly getting fed 3 times a day, was $400. So now Burning Man was costing about $1000. As I’ll mention later, staying at the HBGBs was well worth it. I was also interested in working with the Zendo folks who practice psychedelic harm reduction at Burning Man, but they do not use herbs and so I felt it was not the best place for me to use my skills.

Sunset at Burning Man

Sunset at Burning Man

Travel and Travails Begin

And so, on August 27, I left the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville for Burning Man. I had put the trip time into my GPS to see how long it would take to get there. It said I would arrive late at night which seemed odd to me, as the map showed I should easily arrive by 9 pm. Little did I know….

So after my crossing the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains and gassing up in Reno, I was on the long last road. It was still daylight and with 95 miles left my GPS still strangely showed me not arriving till after midnight. I drove cautiously as there were numerous police cars lining the road. And then I discovered that the GPS did not lie, as I eventually arrived to an indeterminable line of cars very slowly snaking their way to what lay ahead.

And so I grumbled and listened to books on CD and grumbled some more and watched the artistically clothed (and often cigarette smoking) folks get out of their cars and mingle while we inched along the road. And soon enough, the famous dust storms began and I could see perhaps one car length ahead of me. I suppose that I just should have relaxed into the strangeness, but I was concerned, as I did not know what lay ahead. After many hours I arrived at the first checkpoint where they checked my ticket and car pass. All this time the dust was kicking up with very low visibility, fraying my nerves a bit. I got to the second checkpoint a while later and to my surprise they searched my van to make sure that I was not smuggling any contraband or un-ticketed people into the event. I guess this makes sense, but it felt damn invasive. Many of the volunteers wore gas masks for the dust leading to a rather steampunk look which added some allure. I will admit that the questioning and search did not ingratiate me to this event. I was asked if I had any plants with me, I said yes, as I am an herbalist for botany’s sakes. Steampunk Car Checker asked to see my plants and I showed them my recently harvested dried Rosemary. They said it was not allowed. I may have argued a little saying what about all the food people are bringing; surely someone has some Rosemary in a bottle? Indeed I was feeling a bit herbalistically defensive. I was given the ultimatum that if I brought it in I could not bring the Rosemary outside my van during the whole event. And thusly I passed the second to last checkpoint. No plants indeed! At this point the Rainbow Gathering was looking like a lovely informal event compared to the restrictiveness of this festival.

Dust storm at Burning Man

Dust storm at Burning Man

There was one further checkpoint where I was given some directions and instructions and eventually wound my way to the HeeBeeGeeBee camp. My GPS was correct after all, it was past midnight; the last few miles had taken about 4 hours. At the camp I found some people who let me know that I was at the correct spot. And I parked my van and appreciatively went to sleep in it for the night. The people who helped me did not seem too friendly toward me, which foreshadowed much of my time there. But more about that to come. For now, I had finally made it into the quirkiness that is Burning Man.

The Burning Man

The Burning Man at the end of the playa promenade.

The Stage is Set-The Playa and ‘Dust’

Videos-Daytime View from a Tower

Video-Sunset view from a Tower

 

In front of the HeeBeeGeeBee camp

In front of the HeeBeeGeeBee camp

Burning man is on a ‘playa’, a large dried lakebed (over 100 miles long) formed in the Pleistocene era. It is completely free of plant life, as they do not grow on these ever shifting alkali flats. This aspect was a bit difficult for me as I can usually distract myself by looking at plants. I don’t think I have ever been to a terrestrial region so devoid of them, and by devoid I mean zero plants (nor algae or fungi).

Burning Man from a tower

Burning Man from a tower

The playa dust is one of the main features of Burning Man. It is likely the one thing everyone who has been there will speak about. It is a constant, whether on a clear windless day or during a raging dust storm where the visibility is scanty and coarse. The small particles of dust get into all possible crevices such as car windows, clothing and yes, even there. I was sort of prepared for it, but like almost any aspect of nature one needs to be immersed in it to appreciate it. It is fine particulate dust that is easily swept up by the wind and distributed everywhere and on everything and can create near white out conditions. And it is true that many months later, dust still seeps out from my vehicle. This dust make one very cautious about using any technology as it will easily get into the device and maim it. I kept my laptop in a large sealed bag in a sealed container in my vehicle and used it with the door closed. I limited outdoor exposure to my camera and phone. This dust is also quite drying. I walked in flip-flops for most the time as the ground is very soft and felt fortunate that my heels didn’t begin cracking until the last few days.

Rickety Tower at Burning Man

Rickety Tower at Burning Man

Burning Man from a tower

Burning Man from a tower

The Playa as Backdrop

One of the interesting things about the playa is the scale of the place. It is on a large flat plane with mountains in the background. The location is best viewed from one of the camp towers. I was fortunate that there was one just across the road from the HBGB camp. It was a rickety affair, but I went up most days, especially around sunrise and sunset, which were often spectacular.

The scale is striking when looking at the big art installations from a distance, as they look quite small. But up close many of these structures are the size of buildings. If you look at the photograph of the Burning Man, you can see how small the people look working right under it.

Burning Man and workers

Burning Man and workers

Bicycles are the main means of transport, and fortunately I had use of one (thank you again Tom). While there were some deep sandy spots where it was difficult to pedal, the surface makes for easy riding and the ground is level. The main considerations are other bicycles and the slowly moving art cars. These vehicles are skillfully done and elaborate in design and function. And were loud as well, each blaring the music or sounds preferred by their creators. They are integral part of the Burning Man playascape.

Sunset at Burning Man

Sunset at Burning Man

Sunrise at Burning Man

Sunrise at Burning Man

Sunrise at Burning Man

Sunrise at Burning Man

Energy, Resources and ‘MOOP’

Sunrise at Burning Man

Sunrise at Burning Man

To produce such a fantastical panorama, a lot energy and resources are needed. This was the one of the parts of Burning Man I liked least. From an environmental perspective, it seems wasteful. They do have a number of measures to try and reduce waste. The term ‘MOOP’ (matter out of place) is used for garbage and there are guidelines on how to reduce this. There is a 7-mile perimeter fence to catch blowing trash and there was very little garbage on the playa, which is surprising and impressive given all the people and projects.

 

The largest energy consumption is from all the vehicles driving to this remote region of Nevada. Another big use of fuel were the conspicuous fire displays. One such attraction was a towering metal figure that would send huge bursts of flame. I assume they use a variety of combustible liquids and gasses. I may be wrong, but they must go through a lot of fuel for such an attraction. Another large consumer of energy is the extravagant light displays (which are often lovely) as well as the large array sound systems.

The most egregious environmental impact is likely to be the very large fires (the ‘burns’). More about these below.

‘The Scene’

The Temple at Burning Man

The Temple at Burning Man

From the towers you can see the individual camps that make up Burning Man. Many of these camps have a theme such as a huge EDM soundstage or a pickle bar. Some are very elaborate such as the Thunder dome where contestant in elastic straps face off with Goth-clad ringmasters and metal music blasting. Other camps are much more subtle where friends come to spend time with each other or provide all the fixin’s to make your own s’mores.

One of the things I admired about Burning Man is what they call the Gift Economy. There is almost nothing for sale at Burning Man except ice and coffee at an official kiosk. So if there is a margarita night somewhere, the drinks will be free. It changes the atmosphere of a place for it to be non-commercial in this way. This event still exudes wealth; the cost of the structures, the time needed to put them together and of course the price of admission. But it could have all those factors and still be a marketplace, so I applaud the people who generously devote and donate their time and money to offer people a treat or a sensation.

On the aesthetic side, it seems that feather boas, lingerie, steampunk, faux fur and a general slinky look are de rigueur at this event. And I admit to a conservative streak and so the clothing styles did not lend much appeal to me.

Also a big part of the ambience is the music, often very loud music. I cannot say it favored me to this event, but perhaps I am just a thin ear-drummed prig.

Buildings and Other Structures

The Temple at Burning Man

The Temple at Burning Man

Burning Man showcases creative, attractive, flamboyant and intricate structures. These include various types of statues and buildings. There is statuary throughout the camps and some very large pieces on the playa. Many are quite spectacular. There were some large buildings including pyramids, lighthouses, a temple, and the burning man itself.

The Temple at Burning Man

The Temple at Burning Man

Of all the structures, the temple was my favorite. The wood smelled like cedar. And it was beautiful and intricate. But more than the structure itself was its purpose, a place where people come to consider those who have died. People posted photos and notes, some very personal as well as to famous folks like David Bowie. The first time I went I was curious about the structure. But I came back later and being among the people crying and thinking about those people who have passed was very moving. It was a sentimental reflective experience.

The inside of the Temple at Burning Man

The inside of the Temple at Burning Man

 

But frankly no matter what I thought about the various structure it was somewhat obviated by knowing that they would soon burn. This seemed like a colossal waste of resources. I guess if there were just one giant fire it might just seem a bit foolish, but each of these large buildings was soon to burned down. And while I can appreciate ceremony and symbolism, I could not get past the waste and air-borne particulate matter.

The Temple at Burning Man

The Temple at Burning Man

The Temple at night at Burning Man

The Temple at night at Burning Man

More about the burns below

Networking

I never really felt a part of any group, nor did I make any strong connections at Burning Man. This is uncommon for me, for while I sometimes keep to myself I am also an ambivert and enjoy conversing and getting to know people. But it was obvious that for many people Burning Man offered a time with friends and the opportunity to lavish attention on some project. Many of the camps housed outrageously elaborate designs clearly the work of many people. In these there was a clear show of community and networking.

The HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp

Video-A 360° view of around the HeeBeeGeeBee camp

HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp 1

HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp 1

HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp 2

HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp 2

HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp 3

HeeBeeGeeBee Healer Camp 3

The HeeBeeGeeBee healer camp (HBGB) is where I stayed and practiced at Burning Man. A lot of my thoughts and feelings about Burning Man revolve around this camp. HBGB was primarily for people who had ongoing health issues though some came for non-emergency first aid. Burning Man has 6 official first aid stations (and a small hospital) and this is not one of those.

HeeBeeGeeBee front entrance

HeeBeeGeeBee front entrance

This camp is organized by a few individuals who generously donate a lot of time and resources. It was a boon to the many people who visited each day.

HeeBeeGeeBee Class Tent

HeeBeeGeeBee Class Tent

HeeBeeGeeBee Kitchen

HeeBeeGeeBee Kitchen

This section will cover the details about the HBGB. The next section is about my experiences as an herbalist there.

While at first I chaffed at paying $400 to stay at the HBGB camp. I was glad I did. It offered a home base, a community of people, food, and a place to practice herbal medicine. People knew about this camp and began arriving from the first day onward. I was glad to be in a situation where I could practice herbal medicine.

HeeBeeGeeBee Shower

HeeBeeGeeBee Shower

HBGB camp shower water whisk. Water is evaporated in the hot dry air by the small fans that move due to air current.

HBGB camp shower water whisk. Water is evaporated in the hot dry air by the small fans that move due to air current.

We were fed three meals a day and had filtered water, snacks, and a place to recharge phones available. There was a hot water bag shower, which was helpful to remove the daily dust accumulation. They have an interesting method of evaporating the water with wind-driven fans. This is to avoid contaminating the playa with the water. And it was very helpful to be able to relax under the large tents to get out of the dust and sun.

HeeBeeGeeBee hang-out area 2

HeeBeeGeeBee hang-out area 2

HBGB occupies a fair size space. The camp was divided up into a few areas. There was a kitchen and eating and meeting area. There was a large teaching tent where classes were held throughout the day. Next to that was a circus-sized tent, which served as the main area for people waiting to be seen or just wanting to come in out of the elements. It was well appointed with pillows and cushions and offered a relaxing atmosphere. Next to this was a separate partitioned area where the healers worked. Only practitioners and people being treated were allowed in, which helped it maintain a calmer atmosphere. There was also a large tent to house people’s smaller individual tents so they were not directly exposed to the environment. I slept in my van, which worked well to reduce noise, dust and wind as well as it gave me some privacy.

They have an interesting system for setting up appointments. In the covered entrance to the main tent there are poster boards. On these boards were sheets describing each practitioner and the services they offered as well as a place to sign up. After signing up they waited in the comfy large tent. There were two 3-hour shifts each day and there were usually at least 5 body workers for each shift. This was fortunate as it was the modality most people wanted. Some of the people who came to see me did so because there we no more room to be seen by a body worker.

HeeBeeGeeBee Entrance

HeeBeeGeeBee Entrance

HeeBeeGeeBee poster boards to sign up for practitioners

HeeBeeGeeBee poster boards to sign up for practitioners

There was a wide range of bodywork and it was interesting to sit in the middle and watch the various methods employed.

There were some parts of the HBGB camp that I found disconcerting. On a sanitation level, a better pre-meal hand wash would be helpful before people began serving themselves (this is the first aid worker in me speaking).

This next part is about the clothing at the HBGB camp. This reflects my conservative nature, as it seems to be the norm at this camp and Burning Man in general.

HeeBeeGeeBee main tent

HeeBeeGeeBee main tent

HeeBeeGeeBee main tent

HeeBeeGeeBee main tent

There was a fair bit of partial nudity by practitioners at the HBGB camp, which I felt could be triggers for people coming in to be treated. I realize that this sounds prudish of me but I am fairly comfortable around nudity (it is a norm at the Rainbow Gathering) but felt that in a place set up for healing, it might make some people uncomfortable.

There was a practitioner meeting concerning patient’s consent by body workers. I appreciated this talk and there was a separate area for sensual massage. The body workers mostly seemed professional in their skills and temperaments. But a number of them were partially clothed and I imagine for a number of people it could be a uncomfortable.

One of the male-bodied practitioners wore a skirt with nothing below it. This would normally go unnoticed and would in fact feel good in the desert. Except that he would often be on top of the table working on patients. This makes the situation rather revealing. Again, I may be the only one who feels this way, but I am not sure everyone wants to be worked on with a practitioner’s reproductive organs in full view and close by.

Another example was during the daily post-dinner meeting. The person who gave a follow up of the day’s activities wore a long open robe with nothing beneath and after dinner one of the staff would undress showing off their panties. Again this seemed the norm and there is a good chance that I was the only person there who found it in poor taste, as many people were a part of the catcalling and jeering hoots.

I feel a bit embarrassed to even mention this and people may judge me a prude. But I appreciate a bit more decorum in an environment where people are getting treated. And while it may be the norm at Burning Man, I feel HBGB would do well to let patients and staff know what to expect this way.

A different discomfiting situation for me was that one of body workers would encourage his clients to shout as a sort of primal therapy. I understand that this type of therapy may be appropriate for some people, but in a room full of other people working quietly it is unnerving and seemed disrespectful. It only happened a few times but it was alarming.

You may paint me Victorian-esque, but these aspects made it uncomfortable for me to work there. Panty showing-off indeed.

HeeBeeGeeBee hang-out area

HeeBeeGeeBee hang-out area

 

Practicing Herbal Medicine at the HBGB Camp

7Song's consultation area

7Song’s consultation area

I was glad to be a part of the HeeBeeGeeBee healer camp (HBGB) and to have a place to freely practice herbal medicine. A quick note about the word ‘healer’. While many at this camp use this term to describe the work they do, I find it a bit pretentious. I tend to think of herbal medicine and most forms of health care in more prosaic terms.

I set myself up to do consultations in the middle of the treatment room. Fortunately the acoustics did not travel far in the tent so during the consultation we could talk at a normal level and hear each other well but not easily be heard by others. During each shift (I usually worked both shifts daily) I would bring in my herbal gear, which consisted of a large suitcase with supplies, my first aid bag with tinctures, a gallon of water, small disposable cups, and empty 1 oz plastic bottles. After discussing the person’s health I would then usually make them a tincture. For this I would pour from the bottles of various individual tinctures into the 1 oz plastic bottle. I would then dilute it with water and affix a label on the bottle with the ingredients and dosage. Sometimes I prepared a medicine in one of the paper cups to be taken right away.

By the end of the second day I realized that I had to stop giving out as much medicine as I was quickly running out. I was mainly running out of the herbs for anxiety.

HeeBeeGeeBee treatment area

HeeBeeGeeBee treatment area

After the second day I started to record basic patient information and the types of health issues I was seeing. The camp did not require any paperwork, but I like to have this data for other herbalists who may work at Burning Man in the future.

I saw between 8-12 people per day. They were mainly from larger urban areas and were middle class and higher income brackets. The reason I write this is that folks from lower economic strata often have different health care issues from a lack of access from their earliest days. The most common health issue I saw is the same one I see in most places I work, anxiety.

Some of the people who came to see me did so because there we no more room to be seen by a body worker. Many of the people who came to see me did not know what an herbalist did. I would ask if they have ever used herbal medicine or have seen an herbalist and to my surprise, most knew little about herbal medicine. This surprised me because of the environment I was working in and many likely lived more alternatives life styles. I would begin the consultation by telling them what herbalists do and what herbal medicine entails. Since people often came to the HBGB camp for body and energy work, I think practicing herbal medicine seemed a bit out of place. After introductions the conversation often went something like this;

7Song: ‘How can I help you?’

Patient: ‘I’m not sure, what do you do?’

7Song: ‘I am an herbalist, we treat various health problems using plants as medicines’

Patient: ‘I don’t really have any health problems’.

7Song: ‘Do you have any health issues such as digestive problems, asthma or rashes?’

Patient: ‘Well actually I do have (name an ailment)’

7Song: ‘Do you want to talk about it?’

At this point they would often talk about chronic health conditions such as ulcerative colitis or long-term depression. I think the reason it went this way is that people were not sure what an herbalist did, so were not really thinking about their long-term health problems. Also I think at festivals people like to focus on the positive, and to not think as much about their health issues unless it is currently affecting them. I sometimes felt a bit uneasy teasing this out as perhaps it is better for them not to focus on it. But I did not push much as I want people to enjoy their time at Burning Man.

But once they began speaking about their health we would often talk for a while and I would discuss various treatment strategies, herbal and otherwise. I would also discuss ways to continue treatment after they left the event. One way was by letting them know practitioners I knew around where they lived.

In general it was satisfying, though a lot of folks who I saw were more interested in the spiritual aspects of their life and health and this is not where I focus.

The main health issues I encountered were

  • Anxiety, insomnia and other mental health issues
  • Various types of pain
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Digestive problems
  • Fatigue and a lack of energy
  • Allergies and asthma
  • A number of other chronic ailments.

If you are an herbalist who plans on working at Burning Man, I can give you a more specific run-down of what I saw there.

While I was appreciative for all the efforts behind this camp and being able practice freely, it was not a place I felt very comfortable.One reason is that a lot of the health care had a spiritual focus, and this is not the way I view the world. I like to help people and I appreciate serendipity but my view is through the lens of science. This is too large (and perhaps too personal) a topic to cover here, but I often felt distant from the conversations around me.

I often found it difficult to engage with the people around me at this camp. I am sure that much of this is how I present myself but I enjoy conversations and was disappointed by not finding myself engaged more often. My favorite conversations were with the people I was treating. In short, I often felt out of place and was sorry to not feel more at home there.

The Burns

Video-The Man Burning

Audience at the Burning Man burn

Audience at the Burning Man burn

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 3

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 2

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 3

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 3

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 4

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 4

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 5

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 5

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 6

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 6

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 7

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 7

The Burns are one of the bigger entertainments at Burning Man. This is where they burn various structures, a number of them building-sized. These are planned and calculated affairs utilizing various incendiary devices to create and sustain the fires. They also have many safety protocols in place. The burning of the Burning Man was a lavish show with fire dancers, and impressive fireworks. There is something alluring about watching these huge fires. I especially enjoyed the dust devils, which are miniature tornados caused by rapidly changing air temperature. The playa create excellent conditions for these.

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 1

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 1

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 2

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 2

But I find these extraordinarily wasteful, as well as creating a lot of air pollution. There may be significance behind these fires, but they just seem to be a reckless waste of resources, especially with so many of them.

My Escape

Sunset as I was driving out

Sunset as I was driving out

I went to sleep soon after the Burning Man burn. I awoke at the earliest signs of sunrise, hopped into the front seat and having gotten all my things together the day before, I was ready to drive. As usual, a dust storm swept in making the drive slow and unnerving but it added a bit of memorability to this escapade. Soon enough I was in a long line of vehicles snaking their way to parts beyond the playa. But it took less than 2 hours and during this time a beautiful sunrise adorned the scene.

After I made the first turn off going north, I felt the exhilaration of leaving Burning Man. Leaving behind the dust, the noise and my sense of un-belonging. A light drizzle fell as I made my way to my next adventure in southern Oregon.

My Inevitable Comparisons with the Rainbow Gathering

The Burning Man burn

The Burning Man burn

It feels odd or perhaps unnecessary comparing the Rainbow Gathering and Burning Man. But since I do so internally, I thought I might as well put these musings into writing. Most of this will not make much sense unless you have been to a Rainbow Gathering. And to state what will become obvious, I much prefer the Rainbow Gathering (even with its many flaws) and I suspect if a Burner wrote this blog, the favorability would be reversed.

First aid station (CALM) at the 2016 Rainbow Gathering

First aid station (CALM) at the 2016 Rainbow Gathering

The first Rainbow Gathering was in 1972 and has been held every year since. It is free, non-commercial event in a different National Forest in a different part of the country each year. It is an off-the-grid, wilderness gathering where people stay in tents and bring whatever supplies they need.

Before I go on, I want to state clearly that there is much about the Rainbow Gathering that I do not care for. I have working at the first aid station (CALM) for the past 25 years and this is the main reason I go as I have learned a tremendous amount working there. The first aid station is a free clinic with conventional and holistic modalities working together. I have been bringing my Community Herbalism Intensive students to work there since 1994 and I find it an excellent opportunity for them to get hands-on supervised experience.

These are some of the Lovin' Ovens used to bake for the Rainbow Gathering

These are some of the Lovin’ Ovens used to bake for the Rainbow Gathering

Something I did not expect form going to Burning Man is that it has made me more appreciative of the Rainbow Gathering. I hadn’t really thought of the Rainbow Gathering as a self-reliant event, but after going to Burning Man I can see that it is in many ways.

Both events are remote, though the Rainbow Gathering is in a different National Forest every year.While I wouldn’t call the Rainbow Gathering self-reliant it certainly makes better use of the local products from the environment than Burning Man, which is very reliant on manufactured items. Most structures at the Rainbow Gathering are built from local dead trees and the entertainment is non-electrified, Many people who come to the Rainbow Gathering set up camps to help each other; kitchens, water stations, first aid. It is far from perfect, but it seems much more neighborly than ‘radical self reliance’ (and if you have to call yourself ‘radical’ are you?).

The Rainbow Gathering does leave a big footprint, which moves from the different National Forests it is held each year. This is most apparent where the cars are parked along with footpaths and fire pits. Since Burning Man is held in the ever-shifting playa this is less obvious. It seems important to note that there are nearly 10 times as many people at Burning Man. If 70.000 people showed up in the National Forest, it would be a disaster.

One thing both events share is people having special event names such as Crystal Luna or Sparklepony. They also both have a lot of ‘in-house’ jargon.

Burning Man burn 1

Burning Man burn 1

Burning Man and Rainbow Gatherings both have a lax attitude towards clothing, though the type of favored apparel is quite different.

Rainbow Gatherings likely have a more negative impact to local towns. While they both bring in money, Burners have more money and are less likely to be bedraggled spangers.

To me one of the most important differing aspects is about whom gets to go. Both events impose limits on who comes in different ways. Burning Man carries a much higher price tag, from entry tickets to providing your own everything. The Rainbow Gathering is free and open to anyone, but you have to be willing to rough it, no electrified comforts to be found (nor margarita bars). While at Burning Man one must have a way to shelter and feed oneself in the hot, dry, dusty climate.

Since they are both long-standing, both have groups of people who come together once a year to see each other, party and network.

They are very different events, one being much more of a spectacle than the other. Burning Man is more clearly an art show while the Rainbow Gathering is more of a back-to-nature experience. Energy consumption-wise they are also significantly different with the Rainbow Gathering utilizing a lot less than Burning Man.

One thing that surprised me was how few people at Burning Man had any experience using herbal medicine, which is very different than the Rainbow Gathering. This could just be whom I happened to meet, but it was noticeable. I wondered if it could partially be due to who has better medical access.

And for me personally, I missed being around plants. The Rainbow Gatherings are held in National Forests with abundant plant life for perusing and using for medicine. There seem to be more classes and opportunities for networking at the Rainbow Gathering.

On a last note here, a lot of this has to do with my familiarity of going to yearly to the Rainbow Gathering. Once one knows their way around a place, it often becomes more homey. And I admit to being one of those outdoorsy types.

Considerations and Conclusions

A sunrise burn

A sunrise burn

To state the obvious, Burning Man was not an event that enticed me. The main times I enjoyed myself was while practicing herbal medicine and the occasional nighttime playa bike ride. But if one revels in art, Burning Man may just be the ticket.

One of the reasons I am writing this is that I am not sure many of my friends would enjoy Burning Man, but as they are curious, I am supplying some of the (obviously biased) details.

One thing that particularly irks me is that Burning Man encourages ‘radical self reliance and yet there are many rules. I appreciate the idea of people taking care of themselves, but it seems to encourage a lack of community. On the positive side, Burning Man is not a marketplace and people offer goods and services for free. But rather than a neighborly sharing environment, each camp is self-contained. I realize that this may seem petty on my part but Burning Man seems to be radically reliant.

 Driving Considerations: First, gas up in Reno or another large town before you get to HWY 447. The tiny town near Black Rock City has very long petro lines. Have your tickets ready and be prepared for waiting many hours before getting in. Remember about the car search. Here is the list of contraband items. Note ‘Plants, living or dead’ (Well what about all the people bringing in Cannabis, food or spices, huh? Not that I’m feel defensive at all about this).

 Expenses: Besides the tickets, it does not necessarily have to be very expensive. If you go with a number of people, many expenses such a food, water, fuel or a vehicle pass, can be shared. The $400 I paid to stay with the Heebeegeebees was well worth it, especially for my first time there, as I did not have to think much about equipment and food. I would suggest this to anyone going by themselves for their first time.

Sleeping: With the dust, the wind and the noise it is important to have good sleeping arrangements. I slept in my van, which worked well for all three reasons. If bringing a tent, make sure that it is inside a larger tent to reduce the sound, dust and wind.

Dust and Equipment: The threat of alkaline playa dust is real at Burning Man. Any item that is outside and not protected will get impregnated with it. The dust offers some distinction to this event, but be prepared. Here are a few brief suggestions, there are many more thorough descriptions online.

A bandana or scarf and goggles are helpful to avoid getting dust in one’s face. While I enjoyed walking on the soft ground barefoot or in flip-flops by the 6th day large cracks appeared in my heels. I saw many people who had profound heel cracks and wearing shoes and socks help prevent this.

As far as technology, I would leave all tech gear in a vehicle and be cautious using them outdoors. I kept my laptop and similar devices in large zip-sealed plastic bags in a tub that had a clasping lid. I do not think that this is an over-precaution, the inside of my van became filled with dust each time I opened the doors.

After the event, I suggest taking your vehicle to a car wash that can wash the undercarriage and perhaps do it again later.

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 3

Dust Devil at the Burning Man burn 3

Links

  1. The official Burning Man website contains a lot of very useful information, and it makes for an interesting read.
  2. Thorough and readable description of the region where Burning Man is held
  3. Heebeegeebee healer camp
  4. There is no official Rainbow Gathering website, but this one has a lot of helpful links and information

Herbal First Aid Bag

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Introduction

This article is about my herbal first aid bag. I am writing about it for two main reasons: First, with the accompanying photos and information I hope to persuade someone to make me a new version of this bag. And secondly, I hope this information is helpful for others who would like to make their own herbal first aid bags.

Backstory

Over the past 20 years, I have had two specially made first aid bags designed for my needs as a ‘first aid herbalist’. It became readily apparent as I started working in first aid that none of the off-the-shelf or specialty bags would work for me. The main reason is that there was no place to store the bottles that held tinctures, glycerites and other liquid medicines. I wanted them to be easily accessed with their labels evident.

Around this time I had an herb booth at music festivals and came across Lisa from Blue Planet Packs who made various types of high quality bags; backpacks, shoulder bags, etc. I asked her if she would work with me on designing one for herbalists.

The Original Herbal First Aid Bag

I began working with Lisa in November 1997. Here is a photo of one of the first sketches I sent her (drawing has never been one of my strong suits). The major innovation was transparent plastic over the small sleeves that hold the bottles. This allowed me to find the individual remedies expediently. (The difficulty with this design is that there is little flexibility for changes of bottle size. This and other difficulties are discussed below). This first bag was useful and held many individual bottles, but it was not easy to wear as a backpack. Also, more individual pockets were needed in the bag to hold individual supplies.

Initial diagram of original first aid bag

Initial diagram for original first aid bag

Original First Aid Bag

Open view of original first aid bag

 

This is the front of the original herbal first aid bag.

This is the front of the original herbal first aid bag.

Original first aid bag

Original first aid bag

 

Herbal First Aid Bag #2

A few years later I talked with Lisa about designing a new bag that would be easier to carry, more backpack-like. The shape and size were changed as well as the sizes of some of the bottle holders and pockets. This is one that I have been using continuously since around 2001. I have had it modified a few times; zippers tightened, straps put on to hold bottles in place, compression straps and some parts of the pack fortified. The details are described below and are given so folks can use this as a template to make their own first aid bags. Or for anyone daring enough to help me with Herbal First Aid Bag #3

Material and Size

  1. The main part of the bag is made from ripstop fabric. It has done very well despite being used extensively over the years.
  2. The dimensions are approximately  24”L x 15”W x 5 ¾” D (depending on how full it is).
  3. It is made up three sleeves, individual compartments with padding in between.

Considerations

  1. The rip stop material worked well and it might be a good choice for the inside pockets as well so they are lighter, though this will decrease their padding.
  2. Three sleeves worked well, this seems like the right number for convenience and bulk.
  3. The whole bag needs to be rugged and waterproof. All outside parts of the bag are placed on dirt, gravel, hot pavement, etc, and need to be able to take this kind of beating.
  4. It is often in the heat, is there any way to keep it cooler inside?
  5. Rain proof
  6. Protection of bottles between the different sleeves
  7. Wash-ability
  • The bag gets very dirty both inside and out.
  • The fabric has to be able to withstand a good soap and water cleaning.
  • Can it be washing machine safe?
  1. Color-definitely not camouflage-black or green work well.

 

Front view of first aid bag

Front view of first aid bag

First aid bag worn to show size

First aid bag worn to show size

First aid bag worn to show size

First aid bag worn to show size

 

Front, Top, Back, Sides, Bottom

Front

  1. The front panel works pretty well.
  2. It is important to not have much weight here, as it will cause the bag to sag and pull on the shoulders.
  3. The top pocket works well. Perhaps it could be divided inside with another zippered pocket for small items. Or two separate zippered pockets.

 Considerations

  1. Ability to put on and remove a red cross on the front panel
  2. A clear sleeve to put an identification card in
  3. Note the 2 black plastic pieces on the front. They were for two fitted bags that held water bottles. It did not work because they added too much weight and dragged the bag downward in an uncomfortable way.
Front

Front

Front pocket

Front pocket

Top

  1. The 2 handles are very helpful and used frequently.

 Considerations

  1. These handles should be placed in a way to distribute the weight of the bag evenly when picked up.
  2. They need to be stitched well and durable to not rip under the weight.
  3. They could be a little more comfortable with padding, but not too bulky.
Top handles of first aid bag

Top handles of first aid bag

Top handles of the first aid bag showing the handles

Demonstrating the top handles

Back

  1. Most of the straps and pads worked well.
  2. It is reasonably comfortable to wear with its padded back and shoulder straps

Considerations

  1. The waist belt could be a bit more comfortable, but without adding too much bulk.
  2. Comfortability matters as the bag may be put on and taken off many times over a short period of time.

 

Back of first aid bag

Back of first aid bag

Sides

  1. Initially there were no compression straps, which were added later. These made it more comfortable while walking around as well as putting it in luggage while traveling by plane.

 Considerations

  1. The compression straps should be added in the beginning so the bag can be cinched up.
  2. Two compression straps on each side would work well.
Front and side view of first aid bag

Front and side view of first aid bag

first-aid-bag-hunt-hill-home-ithaca-ny-august-1-2009-4-of-4

Side view-when bag is full it can be bulky.

x

Bottom

  • The bottom needs to be rugged.
  • There is a place for straps to be attached on the bottom to carry a rolled-up pad or blanket. I haven’t used it, but it is a good idea.
Bottom of first aid bag

Bottom of first aid bag

Panel by Panel

This next section goes through the first aid bag panel by panel. These areas need the most re-designing, especially the bottle holders. There are some notes with each panel with more specific ideas for changes below.

Considerations

  1. It might be advantageous to have bottle holders on both sides of the same sleeve (for instance, bottle holders on panel 5 & 6 on sleeve 3).
  2. This would make getting a number of tinctures at the same time easier.
  3. But the padding from the way it currently is with pockets on one side creates some cushioning. There might be bottle against bottle damage if they are against each other.

Sleeve 1 (furthest from back)-Panels 1 & 2

Panel 1

  1. These pockets mostly worked well. The material provided padding for smaller bottles.
  2. I would not have the bottle holders in between the pockets.

 Considerations

  1. The pocket material could be a little less bulky.
  2. The bottom pocket (and all pockets) need closures like zippers.
  3. There could also be 2-4 pockets.
  4. It is the furthest panel from the body and should not contain heavy items.

 

Panel 2

  1. Designed to hold many 1 oz bottles.

 Considerations

  1. This could be made into pockets to hold supplies and equipment.
  2. If kept as bottle holders, they should be larger sizes, just a few devoted to 1 oz bottles.
  3. See ‘Bottle Holder’ notes below
Sleeve 1

Sleeve 1

Sleeve 1, panel 1

Sleeve 1, panel 1

Pocket in panel 1

Pocket in panel 1

Panel 1-bottom pocket

Panel 1-bottom pocket

Sleeve 1, panel 2

Sleeve 1, panel 2

Sleeve 2 (middle)-Panels 3 & 4

Panel 3

  1. These mesh pockets work well to see what is inside, and they expand usefully.
  2. The Velcro didn’t work for long and supplies flew out when the bag is opened fast (which is often), they need zippers or some type of closure.

Considerations

  1. Perhaps have both sides filled with bottles as long as it does not damage them. If so, move the pockets to a different sleeve
  2. Zippers or other fixtures for closing the mesh pockets.

 Panel 4

  1. This panel holds 1 oz tincture bottle.
  2. See ‘Bottle Holder’ notes below
Sleeve 2, middle

Sleeve 2, middle

Panel 3-first aid bag

Panel 3-first aid bag

 

Panel 3, bottom packet

Panel 3, bottom p0cket

 

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Panel 4-first aid bag

Sleeve 3 (closest to back)-Panels 5 & 6

  1. This sleeve should hold the heaviest items being closest to the back of the person wearing it.
  2. All the pockets need some kind of zipper or fixture to keep them closed, but easily opened.

 Panel 5

  1. The upper large pockets worked well
  2. The mesh pocket is useful, though needs a closure
  3. The small pockets were made to hold readily accessible tools such as tweezers, scissors and other similar items, but they fall out easily.

Considerations

  1. The large pockets are a bit bulky, but may be helpful for padding
  2. The small item holders need to be redesigned.
  • They could have some kind of strap holding them in place
  • They could be within another pocket that holds them in place, possibly zipped along 3 sides.
  • These pockets would be helpful to retrieve small items readily.

Panel 6

  1. These bottle holders were set up to hold 2 oz bottles
  2. The bottom strap held larger bottles

 Considerations

  1. This whole panel needs to be redesigned to hold larger bottles
  2. The straps on the bottom became loose. These could use some kind of draw cords or other kind of strap to maintain their elasticity.

 

first-aid-bag-sleeve-3-ithaca-ny-nov-27-2016-1-of-1

Open view of sleeve 3

 

Panel 5-first aid bag

Panel 5-first aid bag

 

Panel 5-first aid bag

Panel 5-first aid bag

 

Panel 5-first aid bag

Panel 5-first aid bag

 

Panel 6-first aid bag

Panel 6-first aid bag

 

Panel 6-first aid bag

Panel 6-first aid bag

 

Panel 6-first aid bag, larger containers

Panel 6-first aid bag, larger containers

New Pack-Design, Changes, Improvements

As mentioned above, I am looking to have a new bag designed. I am willing to work with anyone serious about producing this bag. I would be glad to pay a fair price as I realize it will take a lot of time to design and make one.

 Bottle Holder Notes

The need for bottle holders is the main difference producing an herbal first aid bag. It is also the most challenging aspect.

It is important to be able that the bottles are held firmly in place, that they are easy to find to be able to put them back quickly so that the bag stays organized.

When I first began considering the design of these first aid bags, I wanted them to be light and to carry a large assortment of herbal medicines. This is why there are so many 1 oz bottle holders. When working at a first aid station, there is usually backstock so small bottles can be refilled as needed. But in other situations, refilling may not be a possibility. And for many herbal medicines, 1 oz does not last very long. In the redesign, it would be helpful to have less 1 oz and more bottle holders for 2 oz and 4 oz bottles as well as slots for some larger bottles.

What has worked

  1. Individual holders for each tincture bottle
  2. The clear plastic to see the names of the medicines and hold the bottles in place so the labels can be read and found easily.

What did not work

  1. The sizes bottles may change, but the design only holds one width.
  2. The straps holding the bottles in place became loose with time.
  3. The loosening made it necessary to add new straps along the top and to add bottom row to hold them in place.

Bottle Holder Considerations

  1. A clear plastic that does not break down but is still transparent and elastic
  2. Can there be a way to cinch the individual bottles or a row of bottles.
  • Potentially a draw string toggle or something similar
  • Would this be annoying when taking out and replacing a lot of individual bottles at a time? Would it slow down the process?
  • Would it hold up or break down with use?
  1. A place for larger bottles to be held. Potentially of variable sizes.
  • A toggle draw cord might work for these
  • Each individual larger bottle may have its own holder and toggle since there will be less of these and their sizes more variable.
  1. A bottom to hold the tincture bottles in place.
  2. Approximate number and sizes of bottles
  • 1 oz-16
  • 2 oz-24
  • 4 oz-8
  • 8 oz-4

 General Considerations

  1. This bag is carried and jostled a lot, it is important for bottles to be held in place in their pockets and sleeves
  2. Monprene droppers can be used in place of rubber droppers as they do not degrade like rubber.
  3. Can the bag be both backpack style, but also have a shoulder strap (see below).
  4. How the weight is distributed in the bag is important, with heavier items in panels closer to the carriers back.
  5. A backboard to keep the bag firm against the back.

 Zippers, Straps, Compression and Handling

  1. Zippers
  • These need to be a good quality and durable.
  • Cords attached for easier pulling.
  1. Compression straps
  • Two on each side of the bag
  1. Quality straps for shoulders and waist
  2. Handling
  • Two possible styles for handling
  • Backpack style, as it is now
  • Shoulder bag style. I often am carrying two bags with me, and this would allow me to carry the first aid bag as a shoulder bag while also wearing a backpack style bag.
  • Could the backpack style straps be reformed to make it a side/shoulder bag?

 Pockets

  1. It is important that the pockets can be tightly closed as the bag is often opened fast and things can fly out of the pockets.
  2. An extra pocket on the outside for items used often such as gloves, mask and checklist.
  3. Small secure slots/pockets for tweezers, scissors, etc.
  4. A place in the front for an identification card
  5. On the pockets, thinner material so it is more lightweight. But the material must provide some cushioning.
  6. A piece of clear plastic/label holder over each pocket where they could be labeled for what they contain. For instance, ‘Gloves’.
  7. Have about 7 pockets on the inside.
  8. There could be smaller pockets within larger ones to hold smaller items
  9. A few inside mesh pockets to be able to see what is inside them. These would need zippers or other secure closures.
  10. More outside pockets of varying sizes for the equipment commonly needed.

 Questions

  1. What is the estimate of what a new bag will cost?
  2. Will you be producing these for sale?
  3. Would you consider making smaller first aid bags?
  4. Will you share the design?

First Aid for the Practicing Herbalist-Finger Wound

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Before I go into some of the details here, I want to say that herbal first aid is much the same as all other first aid, the main difference is in some of the medicines dispensed. But the basics of sanitation, wound dressing and making the patient comfortable are similar. In this article the emphasis is on the pertinent parts of this first aid situation, there is a lot of background not covered.
(Please note; you can click on the photos to enlarge them)

Florida Earthskills Gathering

This first aid problem happened at the Florida Earthskills Gathering. X had cut her finger with a small foldable saw. These types of wounds often create deep gashes and heal slowly due to the serrations of the saw. And due to the slow mending process from the laceration, it is important to look for, prevent and kill any possible infection.

First day treating saw injury (4th day after it happened)

The cut happened before the first aid station was set up.  I first saw her 4 days after the wound was inflicted. This was a deep and jagged gash on her pointer finger. At the time of the initial wound there were no first aid personnel and the patient was given numerous suggestions by the people around her. Not knowing which was the best choice, she tried a number of them. One of the treatments was putting bee’s wax directly on the laceration to prevent infection. The patient did not have an infection when I saw her, but the bee’s wax seemed like a bad idea as it trapped in water and created a waterlogged swollen finger impeding healing of the local tissue.

The first thing we did was to remove the wax and clean up and inspect the finger. While the tissue looked pretty torn up, it did not look infected and so the goal was to help prevent infection and mend the tissue.

The first day we cleaned it up well, scrubbing the beeswax and other plant residue to get a good view of the wound. We then put propolis on it as a disinfectant and wrapped it in a non-adhesive gauze pad. Then we put on a finger splint as it was near a joint and moving it would continually open it. Each time she came for treatment, she was given a few different internal medicines in tincture form. We would put each of these in a cup with water so it would be easier to take. To prevent infection we gave Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and Oregon graperoot (Berberis sp). For pain and relaxing she took a few nervines such as Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia piscipula) and Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). And after each time she was wrapped up, we gave her a to-go bottle of the above tinctures.

Second day of saw injury (5th day after accident)

Day 2 we cleaned it up better (we had to stop the day before as the area was getting too sensitive to work on) and removed some dead tissue that was in the wound. Again we gave her dilute tincture of infection fighting and pain relieving herbs.  She had to shoot down of couple of these as debriding the tissue and cleaning it well is a painful process.

Third day treating saw injury (6th day after accident)

Third day of treating saw injury (day 6 after accident)

After removing the tissue the wound initially looked more intimidating but better to me, as the tissue was now red and suffuse with blood rather than the waterlogged tissue previously. Again propolis was put on as a disinfectant. And a cotton gauze pad was put on instead of a non-adhesive to help wick water from the local tissue.

Day 3 the wound looked better as the gauze had wicked away some of the water and the blood now coming into the area was helping the healing process. There were also less cracks around the wound. Less cleaning was necessary and we gave her the above medicines, wrapped it in gauze and splinted it up again.

Third day of treating saw injury

Day 4 the wound continued to heal and fill in. The main difference was to remove the splint as the wound was healed enough where it wouldn’t easily open and her finger was getting stiff. While it hurt to bend, I helped curl it (ouch) as she held it in bent position for a few seconds. Again, propolis was placed on and the same internal medicines given.

Fourth day of treating saw injury

Fourth day of saw injury (1 week after it happened)

Day 5 (the eighth after the incident happened) was the last day I saw the patient. It was looking much better though still painful. We got her to flex her finger a little more so it wouldn’t stiffen up to much, gave her some medicines and a wound kit to take with her. She had a good idea how to put the gauze and tape on as we showed her the process each day.

Fifth (and last) day of treating saw injury

Summary
Our basic goal was to prevent infection and help the wound to mend. To do this we observed and cleaned it about twice a day. Externally we put propolis on to prevent infection. Internally we gave medicines for pain, relaxation and to prevent infection. We used a splint the first few days to help the tissue mend.
I would like to thank Susan Marynowski for all the hard work of setting up, supplying and working at the first aid station at the Florida Earthskills Gathering. I would also like to thank Lorna Mauney-Brodek for her excellent clinical and people skills and for bringing her herb bus and equipment to the Gathering. For more information-Florida Earthskills Gathering (www.floridaearthskills.org) and Lorna’s Herb Bus (www.herbalista.org). I would also like to thank X the Patient for putting up with me taking photos.

Thank you for reading this and I hope it was helpful. ~7Song