The Pennsic Medicine Chest

Erich von Kleinfeld, MC,


Dexter Guptill

June 2008

  1. Introduction and Disclaimer: I'm a long-time Pennsic veteran (missed the first 9), former Boy Scout, and Mentor Chirurgeon. I was warranted as a Journeyman 9 years ago, at my 19th Pennsic. Prior to becoming a Chirurgeon, I took care of myself and any friends or household mates who wanted help. I am not a medical professional, however. My actual qualifications extend to First Aid, and CPR. I do not prescribe or dispense medicines, nor do I give medical advice per se. Readers are advised to seek their doctor's advice on any of the items discussed herein. I need also to point out that I have a streak of obsessive, compulsive paranoia. This manifests as a tendency to pay fanatical attention to the spirits of Darwin and Murphy.

  2. Why bring one's own stuff?

    1. If you don't, you won't have it. The First Aid Point formerly known as Chirurgeon's Point, doesn't carry over-the-counter meds.

    2. Hauling a sick family member halfway across Pennsic may not necessarily be a good idea, unless it's an actual EMS situation.

    3. You can tailor the contents of your kit to suit yourself.

  3. What should be in The Chest?

    1. Fixes for boo-boos

      1. Bandaids / Wound Washing / Antibiotic (if suitable)

      2. Larger Dressings and Tape

      3. Splints, Ace Bandages, Braces as needed

    2. Medicines – Listed by illness, rather than specific drugs

      1. All Meds: Choose based on effectiveness FOR YOU, side effects, Interactions

      2. Brand Names: The difference between, for example, Claritin(tm) and Wal-Mart generic Loratadine? About 4x the price.

      3. Pain / Fever Meds, for anything ranging from contusions to hangovers. Ones with anti-inflammatory effects are particularly useful around fighters.

      4. Cold / Allergy / Sinus: Note the difference between Antihistamines, Decongestants, Cough and Cold Remedies

      5. Tummy Upsets: Antidiarrheal, Nausea Meds, Antacids

      6. Topicals: Sunscreen, Sunburn Remedies, Bug Repellents, Fixes for Bites, Stings, and Rashes. Powder, for the Sweaty Bits.

      7. Prescriptions: Time to lay off the jokes about Geezer Boxes

    1. Instruments: You may not want EVERYTHING, choose what you think you'll need.

      1. Forceps / Hemostat, Tweezers, Tick Pliers, Scissors

      2. Extractor / Suction device for bee stings etc

      3. Thermometer(s)

        1. Digital – Reliable, accurate, fairly quick

        2. Glass (Mercury-free, of course) – No batteries to die, and easy to clean

        3. Temporal – fast, accurate, drawbacks are battery life and cold weather

        4. Tympanic (Ear) – Pretty much worthless

      4. Pen Light (with magnifiers, etc, from Drug Store gadget rack)

      5. Dosage spoon for liquids

      6. Sphygmomanometer, aka BP cuff

SOURCES – FEMA's listing of first-aid supplies for their larger, more inclusive bug-out kit

Dr. Koop's Self-Care Advisor: The Essential Home Health Guide for You and Your Family – Time-Life books

American Red Cross, American Heart Association, National Safety Council, and American Safety and Health Institute (ARC, AHA, NSC, and ASHI) first aid manuals.