Basic Training‎ > ‎

First Aid & Sanitation

The methods described herein are not suggested for practical use or in the case of a REAL medical emergency, most of these are quoted directly from Army field manuals published over 65 years ago. Medical knowledge back then is not what it is today. Most bandages and medical equipment we carry are 60+ years old and are by no means to be considered sterile anymore. However, all vehicles are required to have a new first aid kit, this may be invaluable in case of a real casualty. 

Despite the outdated field manuals used as reference, many of the rules and procedures are still the same today.

The Big Picture
FM 8-10

So, a soldier is wounded. What happens? Who aids him? Where does he go? What paperwork is necessary? How is he transported? What care does he receive? These questions comprise the 'big picture' you rarely will see at a reenactment, but out outlined here for your own benefit.

A wounded man usually falls into two initial categories: ambulant and non-ambulant. Ambulant meaning that he can walk under his own power, non-ambulant meaning the opposite.

The process goes something as follows:
  1. Soldier is wounded
  2. Company Aid Man administers first aid
  3. Litter Bearers carry to Aid station (if non-ambulant) or direct him to aid station (if ambulant)
  4. At an Aid Station (can be either a battalion or regimental aid station), more first aid treatment is given, soldiers are sorted between: fit for duty and evacuation
  5. Ambulance evacuation to a Collecting Station relieve the Aid Stations of wounded
  6. Collecting Station further sorts and continues first aid (if necessary)
  7. Clearing Stations then relieve the Collecting Stations of the wounded that are to be evacuated. At this point wounded are classified as transportable and non-transportable (either they're fit to be moved or need attention before being moved)
  8. Transportable patients move on to an Evacuation Hospital or Convalescent Hospital
  9. Non-Transportable patients receive immediate care at a Surgical Hospital before being transferred on to an Evacuation Hospital or Convalescent Hospital.
  10. After the Evacuation Hospital/Convalescent Hospital, soldiers are shipped to the rear (and possibly home) or eventually back to duty

"Company Aid Men
These are enlisted men of the medical detachment, usually privates, first class, or privates who are attached, when the situation so indicates, to a company, troop, or battery for the purpose of administering first aid as near as possible to teh scene of the injury and before litter squads, or other agencies, can arrive.

When so attached, a company aid man remains at all times with that company, bivouacking with it, messing with it, marching with it, riding with it on transport, and accompanying it into action.

The average allotment is two aid men per company or comparable unit, but this is by no means an invariable rule. 

Litter Squads
Litter Squads consist ordinarily of four bearers each, fewer being unable, except in very short carries, to withstand fatigue.

Litter squads operate directly under the control of the section commander unless, in an usual situation, they be formally attached to a combat element. The section commander, after an estimate of the situation, allots to each squad a sector to cover or a combat element to support. They follow (or, in stabilized situations, take post in the vicinity of) the combat elements, maintaining as close contact with them as is consistent with reasonable assurance of sufficient safety to accomplish their tasks.When in the vicinity of combat elements, they should, by voice of informal signals, maintain communication with company aid men. They remove nonambulant casualties, except the dead, which they dag, and direct the ambulant to the aid station, administering such first aid as is necessary. When necessary they search the field for wounded.

Aid Station
An aid station is an installation for the first-aid care and treatment of the sick and injured, established under combat conditions by a section of a unit medical detachment.

Battalion Aid Station
A battalion aid station is established by a battalion section to serve a battalion including detachments. 

Regimental Aid Station
The regimental aid station is established by the headquarters section. It ordinarily serves the regimental headquarters and such companies as are not parts of battalions, and is in the same echelon of evacuation as are battalion aid stations. This is to say that rarely are casualties evacuated from a battalion aid station to the regimental aid station. Other employment of this aid station varies with the situation. It may take over the casualties of a battalion aid station that is forced to move before it can be evacuated. It may be established in the are of the regimental reserve so that when the reserve is committed, the medical personnel of the reserve may be free to accompany it without the delay incident to the disposal of casualties. In other sections the regimental aid station may not be established, the personnel of the headquarters being used elsewhere.

Collecting Station
[Collection] is the operation of relieving units in action [aid stations] of their sick and wounded and the delivery of such casualties to a clearing station. When, during the operation, preparation for evacuation (other than first aid) is both necessary and feasible, it is provided for, but it can no longer be regarded as invariably essential to collection.

Clearing Units
A clearing unit is primarily a combat organization. Its principal function is to establish and operate in combat one or more clearing stations at which casualties are received, sorted, given temporary care, and emergency treatment and, when indicated, prepared for further evacuation and transferred, at the clearing station, to a medical unit of higher echelon, usually an ambulance unit of the army medical service. 

Surgical Hospitals
Surgical hospitals are mobile units of the army medical service designed primarily:

To provide adequate facilities near the front for major operative procedures necessary to save life or limb and which cannot be postponed until the casualty reaches an evacuation hospital.

To relieve clearing stations immediately of non-transportables in order to prevent the immobilization of such stations through the accumulation of casualties that cannot be immediately evacuated. 

Evacuation Hospitals
Evacuations hospitals are mobile units designed to:

Provide, as near the front as practicable, facilities for major medical and surgical procedures in the care and treatment of all casualties.

Provide facilities for the concentration of evacuees in such numbers and at such locations that mass evacuation by common carrier can be undertaken economically.

Provide opportunity and facilities for the beginning of definitive treatment as early as possible.

Continue the sorting of casualties, under conditions more favorable for observation, and to remove from the chain of evacuation such as are, soon or will be, fit for duty.

Prepare evacuees for extended evacuation to general hospitals some distance to the rear.

Convalescent Hospital
The convalescent hospital is a mobile unit designed to care for such short-duration cases as required no further active treatment but that are not yet ready for duty. It is an expansion tank for the evacuation policy of the army." 

Reenactor Application

As you will notice from the included excerpts from FM 8-10, 21-10 and, FM 21-11, many of these situations are faced by the unit regularly at events, real or simulated. This was the purpose of picking out these portions.

All of these can be used and applied while 'acting'. Some of them may still be used an applied in the 'real world' - ex. the cleaning of mess kits, use of prophylaxis, and personal hygiene guidelines.

"Corpsman" is the universal reenactor word for "real-life medical emergency!". If you hear it, cease fire, give the order to cease fire, find the person, assess their condition, seek proper level of medical attention.