Week 11 – Question of the Week: What lab procedures are you preparing to provide at TEOTWAWKI?

Week 11: 2011-05-19

Today I’m asking our professionals to consider this question:

What lab procedures are you preparing to provide at TEOTWAWKI?

Anyone else with opinions, questions, or concerns is invited to reply as well in the box below.

Check back soon and see what our panel of over 100 professionals has to say.

– Doc Cindy
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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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5 Responses to Week 11 – Question of the Week: What lab procedures are you preparing to provide at TEOTWAWKI?

  1. pa4ortho says:

    Here is what I have done so far:

    urine test strips and a great article on using them


    specific gravity float

    ebay microscope from india. robust and well made. with multiple light sources. A mirror works with sunlight or a flashlight.

    hemocytometer ebay for CBC

    gram stain, etc….

    capillary tubes and bees wax from my hive. a hematocrit table to read the percent blood vs plasma (google images and print)

    centrifuge, you can also improvise one easily with a bike wheel and a piece of tape or a sock spun around on a string.

    milipore, a water safety company, makes a great field incubator that runs on batteries 12v or 110/220. Glass culture plates (small size) and a basic agar mix. (you can add to it) wire loop, burner,

    istat for the high tech solution for blood chem.

    reagents and labware and a spectrometer for the low tech solution when I run out of cartridges for the istat. Simple lab is a great skill set to have in the developing world.

    stool guiac test.

    hcg test strips until i run out

    dexa stix for blood glucose, and a much nicer BG machine until i run out of test strips.

    a lot of this high tech stuff goes out of date.
    simple reagents in a bottle last a long time.

    I have not looked into fish tank test strips and will study this option next time I bust out the lab, thanks for the tip.

    get your group blood typed by donating blood now.

    walking blood bank is a whole other discussion.

    there are still lots of things I cant check that I would like to:
    thyroid- i dont know how
    sed rate- just need a few simple items
    frozen sections for pathology- equipment intensive, liq nitrogen
    making hcg test from scratch- i understand a pregnant rabbit is involved somehow.


  2. KF says:

    Other lab and test equipment to procure:

    Urinalysis, saliva strips
    pH test tape (aquarium strips are much cheaper than medical supply strips and are just as accurate)
    Blood Type and Cross smear cards
    Hemoccult test strips
    Pregnancy urine test strips
    A vintage Hemacytometer, calibration slide kit, and a quality microscope that has a mirror lens reflector (no electricity required)
    Calcium Cl, Magnesium, Iodine level, K, Na Cl, test kits (also all available in aquarium supply)
    Pulse oximeter
    Basic 3 lead EKG cardiac monitor with strip print out capability (battery pack)

    Many of the test strips require temperature controlled environments.

    Also, request the longest expiration date possible when ordering any of the testing strip supplies.


    • KF says:

      In addition to the equipment also referenced by Jeff G,

      capillary tubes/sealant
      peak flow meter
      hand turned/operated centrifuge
      micro hematocritometer


  3. Jeff G EMT-P says:

    I forgot to mention a needed supply of items if you get a microscope. These are slides, stains, and slide covers.

    First off, you need a slide – a thin strip of glass, which one mounts (places) the sample (blood, saliva, sputum, feces, ect) on to so that it can be held under the microscope. I have 270 of these as they are cheap.

    Next you need a stain. Microscopic stains aid in detecting elements of the sample as the edges and certain features are highlighted. Amazon has a decent kit of the common stains which aren’t too badly priced, considering you won’t need a liter.

    A small bottle of immersion oil is also recommended.I have 30mL, but I’ve been elected to be our MAGS Medical Officer, if we can’t find a Doc.I pray we do.

    Keep in mind, I’m considering the laymen to have the equip and either gain knowledge on what is needed or find a professional without the equipment to assist you in the diagnosis. It wouldn’t hurt to have someone take a microbiology class if you have a large MAG or Group. I digress, moving on…


    Lastly is a slide cover. I have 200/ A really thin piece of glass place over any sample placed in an immersion oil. I won’t go into detail, but it would be necessary to have for a professional to read an immersion oil slide.

    All of this is on Amazon.com.

  4. Jeff G EMT-P says:

    I am not one of the sanctioned professionals that Dr Cindy has in her tool kit, but I think this is an important area to have in your supply cache. Given this, I thought I might chime in.

    My medical cache contains laboratory items such as urine dip sticks, human microbiology equipment, test tubes (sterile) and a centrifuge. I briefly discuss these items below as well as why they are important to the layperson to possess.

    The main reason a layperson should have this equipment is that even if you don’t know how to use this equipment, you might come across someone who does but lacks the equipment. In the right hands and with the right antibiotics, this equipment can turn what was once a deadly medical condition into an easily dealt with annoyance. Infections post-Armageddon can and will be deadly. A simple scratch, undernourishment and abnormal hygiene, will make infections much more prominent than today’s environment.

    The first item which I think it is important for everyone to have is the urine dip test sticks. Armed with simple pre-printed information (link to follow) of what each reading means, it allows folks to figure out what is going on inside the organs of the body. Urinalysis gives a broad picture, but it is much better than guessing. At least it points to an organ’s involvement in the illness. Knowledge is power.

    Next comes the human microbiology equipment. I should say that I do have hospital lab experience, as well as working as a volunteer in my college microbiology lab. It really doesn’t matter, as you can easily obtain this equipment yourself. I won’t go into the preparation procedures, but they are all available on the internet for your printing leisure.

    I have purchased:

    50 sterile Petri dishes
    Regular and Blood Agar powder, which is the medium used to grow bacteria in a Petri dish.
    (You can even purchase pre-made agared Petri dishes, sterile.)

    12 liters of medical-grade, sealed sterile water, available at your local Farm and Feed Supply. (They also have 250,000u and 500,000u (units) of injectable per cc Penicillin for your FARM ANIMALS, get it? It’s for the animals, not human consumption without prescription. You need to learn about dosages and how to use it on your FARM ANIMALS) moving on…

    A used 1500x binocular compound microscope with 4 objective lenses. Read up about microscopes if you plan to get one. I bought this for $100 at a Community College two counties away as surplus. They had upgraded to Binocular 4000x and still had the old ones awaiting surplussing (it had been 3 yrs since the change) It is an electric model but I’ve scoured and found a small mirror with mount which will fit in place of the removed electric light box. I also found a parabolic mirror which I can use a large candle on the mirror, to adequately light the microscope. Bright sunshine works very well .

    3 one liter lab flasks, necessary for mixing the Agar medium.

    A college textbook on Microbiology. This is essential for the layman as it contains many colorful pictures of different types of molds, fungi, bacteria and viruses (which can only be seen with a scanning electron microsope-yup, they are that small.)

    Twenty 10cc test tube with stoppers, twenty larger tubes with stoppers.

    A centrifuge I also got from a community college surplus. I bought 5 non-working units and used the parts to build two that do. This is actually an extravagance I’ll probably never need but better to have and not need than the other way around. Plus they were cheap.

    TONS of digital human and animal lab procedure books on microbiology, as well as several older (2003) printed versions.
    All of this equipment I acquired is not because I know how to use it all, but in case I could learn or run across a knowledgeable individual who does.

    If you have a large MAG or group, I would highly recommend that you acquire this type of equipment as well. One could take the attitude that one could just forage (loot) the local hospital as needed for this equipment; chances are it’s going to be damaged in the chaos. If things ever go back online, the hospital equipment that survives the looting may be in short supply for some time and by taking it, others are only adding to the problems of rebuilding society.

    I also have a variety of various lab blood tubes, 3,5 and 12 cc syringes and 18, 21 ga needles for blood draws.

    All of this equipment is available on amazon.com. Sans a good microscope and centrifuge, it could be had for less than $100.

    Even if one obtains nothing else, I still think the urine (Urine Reagent Test Strips)dip sticks and the printed knowledge of what they mean, are a necessary item in any medical prep.

    They are available for less than $18/100 on Amazon, but the following site has very good information on them. Click for the more detailed info at the end of each paragraph.


    BTW, these guys want $40+ for the strips so don’ buy from them, just glean the info, imho…

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