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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mobile hospitals, Surgical teams, X-ray trucks, Sterilizers and more!

US Ambulance, circa WWI, holds 4 men!
How do you best save wounded men if:

1. they are sometimes carried by 4-6 stretcher bearers for 1 mile or more before getting to ambulance

2. they must travel over muddy, shell-warped lanes for 3 to 5 miles back of line to get to a sterilized operating room

3. only at night, lest the enemy see the ambulance line during the daylight and bomb them

4. in ambulances that hold either four or eight

5. with only barest field dressings on utterly horrific head, chest and intestinal areas

6. with limited morphine pills

7. not enough front line surgeons

8. who have limited facilities (surgical supplies, no needles, no ether, no nurses, orderlies only...)

The United States Army Medical Corps answered these challenges by creating mobile hospital units. These teams of expert surgeons, nurses and orderlies formed 7-member teams who volunteered to go directly in back of the front lines of Doughboys.

US Army Mobile X-Ray truck, WWI
These men and women were screened to be the most professional, stable, healthy individuals who had proven their resilience and talents in the first months that Americans had gone abroad. Then, as the need for medical teams to be much closer to the wounded became vital, mobile surgical units were created.

Composed of one surgeon, one assistant, two nurses, one nurse anesthetist and two orderlies, this team would receive a wounded man and immediately operate on him.

To ensure that this occurred within minutes, the mobile unit also consisted of admitting officers who were trained in triage, x-ray technicians and ambulance drivers who took the post-op patients and transported them farther down the line to another mobile unit or a larger facility, also mobile, called an evacuation hospital.

Want to read about one in action in the Meuse-Argonne in November 1918 during the Big Push?
Read HEROIC MEASURES, out now.
In there, you see how the main character, Gwen Spencer from Scranton Pennsylvania joins a mobile surgical unit and survives the rigorous PUSH in The Great War.

A group of trucks in a mobile unit would pull into a clearing and go to work!
This was their configuration.

Even men of the ambulance units had to pause to line up and get a bath! Note that water had
"to be carried several blocks an coal is scarce. Rambillard, France, Oct. 23, 1918

Sunday, November 10, 2013

TOMORROW, 99th Anniversary of Armistice! Honor the women and men who fought in The Great War and read HEROIC MEASURES

     When the British, French, Americans and Germans and Austrian-Hungarians signed the Armistice agreement November 11, 1918 in Compiegne, France, the world celebrated a cease fire, the end of the slaughter that typied the war.
     Here is the famous picture of those who signed the agreement in the railroad car along the front in northern France.
Photographer unknown. In public domain in EU, UK and USA.
     Millions in tiny villages and large cities across the world came out to mark the end of this tragic conflict. Some danced. Most cried. Millions mourned their loss of  friends and family. For thousands who served, many decried the impairment of their health. Bitter and devastated, the millions who survived had before them an extremely difficult time recovering. Whole towns had disappeared. Home and farms were destroyed. Landscapes were forever altered by huge bombs, tunnels and gas warfare.
    People had to deal with the loss of millions of their loved ones. In Britain, so many young men had been killed that the Government soon developed a program for unmarried women to move abroad so that they might find husbands in the Commonwealth countries. Wounded, largely due to the improvement in medical care, survived by the hundreds of thousands. As amputees, many learned to use prostheses. Others who were facially wounded underwent new skin grafting techniques that were to be the solid basis for the development of plastic surgery.
     Today, the park and forest around Compiegne's treaty site are peaceful sites. Like that day when the Entente military leaders and their German counterparts met in a railroad car, the foliage is thick. And as then, it is so deep you cannot see the sky. On that day, the Entente leaders wanted aerial coverage as protection but the canopy was so dense this was impossible.
Museum at site of Armistice signing.
Inside is Railroad Car, next in sequence of actual car since destroyed in fire.

Aside from this car, the museum houses wonderful panoramic pictures of all aspects of military life.
I estimate ninety percent of these are not duplicated anywhere else.

Outside in the clearing, this statue
to French General Foch
who received the German agreement to the cease fire for 11.11.18.
Memorial to the Heroic Soldiers of France
Defenders of the their country
and the glorious liberators of Alsace and Lorraine.
This stands directly opposite the building in above picture
which houses the replica of the train car where Germans agreed to cease fire.