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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Medic! First Aid in Combat, From WW1 Trenches to Operation Iraqi Freedom

00:00 47:06
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Up until the recent past, if a soldier was wounded in battle, he remained in the field where he had fallen without hope of rescue. Maybe a comrade would drag him to safety, but more likely he would remain there for days, hoping for aid (or, barring that, death). Not that ancients knew nothing of combat medicine. Alexander the Great had tourniquets applied to soldiers with bleeding extremity wounds. Stretchers made of wicker were used in medieval battles. Triage was used in the Napoleonic corps.

It was not until the Civil War that something like an ambulance service developed. Everything change in 1862 when Dr. Jonathan Letterman developed a three-tier evacuation system still used today. First was the field dressing station near the battlefield. The second was the field hospital (or MASH units). Finally a large hospital for those needing prolonged treatment.

Today, death rates in battle have plummeted, thanks to the work of combat medics, who keep soldiers from dying at their most vulnerable time.
November 12, 2019
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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