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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Treatment of Casualties

Treatment of Casualties

The ground preparations for this attack met with increased shelling and on 16 February forty-five casualties were admitted to 4 MDS. The first Maori casualties arrived at 4 MDS at 2 a.m. on page 535 18 February, which was estimated at three hours after they had been wounded. By 8 a.m. about seventy wounded had passed through the MDS after having been promptly cleared from 5 ADS by ambulance cars. For the attack 5 ADS had moved on 16 February to a house on Route 6. As had happened in the Sangro operations, the attack across the river had meant that most of the walking wounded were wet below the waist. As pyjamas were not suitable for these cases, they were supplied with battle-dress trousers, socks, and sandals from the reserve held by the MDS. There were about one hundred casualties among the Maoris and engineers from the attack.

plans for field hospital

1 NZ CCS, Presenzano, February 1944, showing layout of unit

In view of the good road and short trip of about one hour along Route 6 to 1 Mobile CCS, little surgery was done at the MDS, which accordingly reverted to its basic function of recording, resuscitation, and the performance only of such surgical procedures as were of immediate necessity. Attached to 4 MDS was 2 NZ FTU, and it became customary to send patients on to the CCS with transfusions running throughout the journey in the ambulance car. The provision of transfusion attachments for stretchers was found to be most valuable. It enabled stands for blood bottles to be clipped on the side of the stretcher and prevented a cessation of blood transfusion due to the needle pulling out when the car was travelling over rough sections of the road.

A large number of Schu-mine casualties, from the heavily mined railway embankment and other areas, passed through the MDS at this time. The Schu mine was a small box anti-personnel mine not detectable by electrical methods, and it produced a characteristic wound in which the foot was completely disorganised. Amputation was necessary for all such injuries, and this was usually performed at the CCS. The Singer-type army tourniquet proved quite unsuitable for these cases, and circles of tire tube were applied just above the damaged area so as not to interfere with the circulation at the site of subsequent amputation.