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Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “chemical weapons”

Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare (2008)

Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare (2008)

(Paper: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/460938576)

(PDF: http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/Portlet.aspx?id=d3d11f5a-f2ef-4b4e-b75b-6ba4b64e4fb2)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are the effects of nerve agents?
  • What nerve agents smell fruity?
  • How long can VX stay active in the soil?
  • How long might someone stay in a BZ induced delirium?


From the prologue:

This expanded edition covers four themes: (1) the history of chemical warfare; (2) medical diagnosis and treatment for chemical casualties; (3) the mechanisms and science behind treatments and advances in therapy; and (4) homeland security. The book addresses innovative new technologies, such as nerve agent bioscavenger enzymes, as well as advances in personal decontamination, wound healing, protective equipment, and more.

Some of the particular chemical agents discussed include:

  • Nerve agents (tabun, sarin, soman and VX)
  • Incapaciting agents (BZ, LSD, etc)
  • Riot control compounds (CS, OC, PS, CN, DM, CR)
  • Toxins (Palytoxin, Tetrodotoxin and Saxitoxin, Brevetoxin, Batrachotoxin)

Some other chapters of interest to writers of stories involving these sorts of attacks are:

  • Triage of Chemical Casualties
  • Decontamination of Chemical Casualties
  • Chemical Defense Equipment

The main text is followed by a table of abbreviations and acronyms and an index.


Textbooks of Military Medicine

Textbooks of Military Medicine – http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How can lack of sleep contribute to a friendly fire incident?
  • How long can the average person go without sleep and still be effective?
  • How can a prosthetic leg be set up to allow someone to bicycle?
  • How do you decontaminate someone exposed to chemical warfare agents?
  • How does the military measure eye trauma?
  • Where can I get detailed information about decompression sickness?


To get to the textbooks, you’ll need to click on one of the Textbooks of Military Medicine links, which will take you to http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/Portlet.aspx?id=82200b57-a7a4-4160-bb51-4a086dd6ccce.

This page links to the full text of the textbook series in reverse chronological order by publishing date. To help you focus on topics, here is my effort to group them by topic:



Environmental Aspects


Nuclear/Chemical/Biological Warfare

Physical Injury

Preventive Medicine


Each book is presented as a web page with PDF files for chapters and/or sections. If this format is uncomfortable for you, these books ought to be available through your library, at least through interlibrary loan. Some of the books are available for purchase, others are out of print.

Be warned that some of the volumes have disturbing photographs, as one might expect from medical textbooks.

If you are a regular writer of war stories, I would highly recommend keeping all of these volumes bookmarked or buying as many of the physical volumes as possible.

Marine Corps FMST Student Manual – Field Medical Service Technician

Marine Corps FMST Student Manual – Field Medical Service Technician

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How do I treat heel spurs?
  • What is a Needle Thoracentesis and why would I want to perform one?
  • What are the symptoms of radiation exposure?
  • What are the symptoms of various snake bites (envenomation)?
  • What are the risk factors for combat stress?


This manual is divided into the following sections:

  • Block 1 (Concerning basic knowledge of military structure and basic first aid.)
  • Block 2 (Mostly about treating various kinds of injuries.)
  • Block 3 (Concerning diagnosing and treating chemical, biological and radiological warfare casualities.)
  • Block 4 (Triage, urban warfare and casuality evacuation)
  • Block 5 (Combat skills)

Representative manual chapters include: Perform Care of the Feet, Perform Emergency Cricothyroidotomy, Manage Abdominal Injuries, Manage Chemical Agent Casualties, Recognize Combat Stress Disorders and IED.

Marine Corps CREST Student Manual – Chaplain & Religious Program Specialist

Marine Corps MCECST Student Manual – Chaplain & Religious Program Specialist


Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How do I diagnose nerve agent poisoning?
  • How do I administer a nerve agent antidote?
  • What are the symptoms of blister agent poisoning?


Medical training manual for chaplains and other religious program specialists. The manual is divided into the following sections:

  • ANNEX A – USMC Orientation
  • ANNEX B – Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (Not provided online. An administrative overview of this program can be found at http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO%201500.54A.pdf
  • ANNEX C – Combat Life Saver
  • ANNEX D – Ministry in Combat
  • ANNEX E – USMC Common Combat Skills
  • ANNEX G – Rifle Familiarization

The manual includes chapters on Pastoral Care in a Mass Casualty Situation, Treat Chemical Agent Casualties, M16/ M4 Service Rifle Familiarization and Control Hemorrhage .

Aside from providing basic medical information useful in battlefield stories, the skills described here could easily be incorporated into stories of priests and ministers with surprising skill sets in civilian life. Kind of like Shepherd Book in the Firefly television series.

Timeline for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Department of Defense)

Timeline for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Department of Defense) – http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/timeline/index.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What sort of medical record keeping did the US military do before and after the Persian Gulf War?
  • Where can I find an account of incidents involving bioweapons detection by US allies?
  • When was awarding of the National Defense Service Medal authorized for US forces?
  • How were SCUD missiles used by Iraq during the Persian Gulf War and what payloads did they carry?


A timeline of the major events of the Persian Gulf War with full text links to reports and other documents created during and after the conflict. Aside from providing a useful scaffold of events for your stories, the linked reports may help in giving characters physical and psychological complications.

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