War, resources? Since the beginning of time, man
Posted On May 29, 2019
War, it has coursed through the world like a disease since the beginning of man and all for what? Power, control, or resources? Since the beginning of time, man has been at a constant discord with each other, always wanting more. However there was good that came with war. With the new invention of weapons of destruction came new inventions of procedures to heal the destruction. Even though the world is so bound to tear itself apart, few people set out to put it back together one person at a time. Over time without medicine and without the implementation of MASH units and new medical units during the Korean war mankind would tear itself apart through war and no one would put it together again. June, 1950 marked the beginning of a three year war that would seem to last for an eternity. The Korean war began as North korea invaded South korea in the prospect of Korea as a whole under a communist thumb. With the involvement of the United States with this war brought men and women from the United States for different purposes to South Korea. “When the Korean War started in June of 1950, there was a shortage of doctors in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. To serve this need, the government instituted a “doctor draft” and by the beginning of 1951, the first drafted doctors began arriving in Korea (Emanuele).” With this draft it drug doctors and nurses from around the United States from their private practices to treat the wounds of war. However even surgeons from the United States could not be prepared for what comes with war. Battlefield surgery is vastly different than surgery performed in a civilian environment. Robert L. Emanuele gives a first hand account of his experience and the type of work he performed as a surgeon stationedp at a MASH unitMobile Army Surgical Hospital just 10 miles from the first line. As you read the first hand description that Emanuele gave you can only imagine what it was like to being living in that moment and performing those gut wrenching surgeries. However some wounds were not physical and wounded soldiers were not always the ones who needed healing. Emanuel describes the life of a surgeon within a MASH unit and the mental toles it would have over time. “The workdays were long, 12 hours on and 12 hours off, and the work was a constant challenge in terms of the sheer volume of cases and in the complexity and variety of wounds. The work was also emotionally challenging. I remember one particular case where a young soldier had been badly injured. Myself, Ray (Capt. Ray Crissy) and Mert (Maj. Merton White) worked on him for hours. We had opened his chest when his heart just stopped beating. We did everything we could to keep him alive, including injecting blood directly into his aorta and massaging his heart.I still remember the feeling of holding his heart in my hand. We were able to bring him back and I remember joking with him a few days later. He seemed to be doing well and I really thought he was going to make it. But his kidneys ultimately failed and we lost him. Like so many of the GIs, he was nice kid whose life ended way too early(Emanuele).” Reading Emanuele’s accounts of this emotionally hard and physically brutal time a thought begins to trickle through the mind like smoke and only building; what good can possibly come from war. War brings miles and miles of destruction, demolished cities, and deaths that are insurmountable. With all this comes inventions to cause more destruction and weapons of mass destruction which forced the recipients to invent new forms of medicine and procedures. You see this all throughout history just something as simple as transportation of wounded soldiers can be the matter of an amputation of an arm or leg or the difference between life or death. “Ambulances, antiseptic, and anesthesia, three elements of medicine taken entirely for granted today, emerged from the depths of suffering in the First World War (Hampton).” So many wounds that were inflicted during these early wars were immediately infected by rampant bacteria and the doctors had no way to control these infections without amputation. “Théodore Tuffier, a leading French surgeon, testified in 1915 to the Academy of Medicine that 70 percent of amputations were due to infection, not to the initial injury(Hampton).” With each war came new statistics, new destruction, and doctors doing everything they could possibly do to save the men fighting these wars. In the Korean war came the statistic of the fatality rate of seriously injured soldiers to 2.5% with the help of the newly planned MASH units and the aeromedical evacuation system that were both established at the beginning of the Korean war(Zimmerman). “The Korean War also provided an opportunity to study and test new equipment and procedures, many of which would go on to become standards of care in both the military and civilian medical communities (Zimmerman).” War is almost like a trial and error for medicine. Sometimes you need to change to more efficiently transport wounded soldiers and save their lives as well as make the surgeons life easier as infection wouldn’t have had time to set in. The combat medical care doctrine in Korea consisted of a relay system. The wounded soldiers would be put almost like in a conveyor belt and passed all over Korea and depending on the seriousness of the wounds sent to Japan. First the wounded would be evaluated and stabilized at a battalion aid station and a forward collecting station before being taken to a MASH unit or division clearing station(Zimmerman). Merriam Webster defines collecting stations and clearing stations as stations that receive already treated patients and are where they are cleared back to their battalion. This whole system was created to help the soldiers be taken to help faster and give them a higher chance of survival. Generals even had to reevaluate their original plan of just ground transport and changed it to mostly air transport due to the rugged landscape and the treacherous road systems. There are always brilliant and heroic men and women when it comes to almost everything but in the Korean war there was one surgeon that stood out to me as a secret but truly impactful man.