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Military Medicine

Listen to "Military Medicine"

Medicine has been used in the military since 1274BC in the Battle of Kadesh (Egyptians vs. Hittites), and 400BC by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. However, field hospitals and medical care on the frontlines is a fairly recent invention (around 1492 by the Spanish and the Moors). Since then, there have been major innovations in every major war:
  • Napoleonic Wars: Larrey, Napoleon's chief surgeon, creates the "flying ambulance", the idea of amputation, and the policy of treating wounded according to severity of injuries, not rank.
  • 1864 Geneva convention: Red cross adopted as military medicine emblem
  • World War I: The RAMC (royal army medical corps) invents a three zone-system for collection, evacuation and distribution. They also categorize the wounded into less-serious, serious, and hopeless.
  • World War II: Medics become integrated into fighting units. Medics also have access to morphine and plasma.
  • Korean War: MASH units are created to serve as mobile field hospitals.
  • Vietnam War: Medevac helicopters are used to evacutate the wounded to a hospital in under 2 hours.
For more information, read Military History Magazine (November 2005): Medics!, Military Medicine at History Resource Center

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine