First Aid for Non-Battle Injuries (US Army, 1943)


[Music] [Narrator:] Suppose you’re around a field kitchen when hot water spills over the cook and burns him. Or suppose you’re around when a member of a wire-laying crew falls from a tree and breaks his leg. Or suppose you see an Army truck smash-up and several men are severely injured. You don’t have to be a doctor to help. In fact, as a first-aider, you are not expected to do a doctor’s job, or to use complicated medical equipment. What will you do for a man with a broken back? Or a severe burn? Or a broken leg? Would you get panicky and run around in circles because a doctor wasn’t around? You wouldn’t if you knew something about first aid. A first-aider knows what help to give an injured person before a doctor’s treatment or equipment is available. He first determines what is wrong with the injured person, and then acts quickly, but gently. And accidents will happen. Snakebites, broken bones, electric shock, burns. Such non-battle injuries can cause loss of life or limb, if you don’t know something about first aid. Sometimes, accidents are just around the corner. This truck, coming down the road, was six miles from camp. Men were in the front and in the rear. The truck was about to make a curve, when a road hog forced the truck to swerve to a soft shoulder. [Car crash sounds ] A corporal [?] real injury and knew enough about first aid to take control of the situation. His first move was to send for an ambulance. Then, he started to look after the injured. The driver had been thrown out of the cab, and it looked like curtains for him, but the corporal started right in with first aid. He first examined the driver, and figured he had a broken back, because when he tried to move him, even a little bit, it hurt like hell. The corporal didn’t pick up the driver, because he knew a fella with a broken back should never be moved except by skilled medical men. He was smart enough not to do too much. He took a couple of field jackets, rolled them up,
and gently placed them under the small of the back by rolling the driver to one side while the jackets were being placed. This gave support to the back so that the man was more comfortable. He reassured the driver that medical help was on the way, and then went to check on the condition of the others. These men were pretty well banged up. This one had a bad flesh wound on the thigh. The blood was oozing, but not spurting. So, the corporal gave the soldier a clean handkerchief, and told him to hold it tightly against the wound in order to stop the bleeding. The arm of another soldier was broken below the elbow. That corporal sure came through with flying colors. First, he sent a man for sticks to be used as splints. Then he gently removed the soldier’s fatigue jacket, by tearing it down the back and slipping it off the arm. Meanwhile, the other soldier found several boards, and selected one which was most suitable. The corporal tore the victim’s jacket into strips and used the larger pieces to pad the boards by wrapping the pieces around them. This prevented injury to the skin and made the splints more comfortable. The splints were then placed on the arm and tied in place with more strips of the jacket. The ties were tight enough to hold the splint securely, but not so tight they cut off the circulation of blood. They were placed above and below the fracture, but not over it. A sling was made with a longer strip of the torn jacket, long enough to keep the elbow at a right angle. And that’s what is known as using your first-aid head. This member of a Signal Corps wire-laying crew was up in a tree stringing a wire across a road. On the way down, his foot slipped and he fell to the ground. The sergeant in charge of the detail examined his leg and found the left thigh bone was broken. So, he prepared padded splints from strips of shirt and boards. These splints had to be long enough to reach from the foot to the armpit on the outside and from the foot to the crotch on the inside. Ties were made above and below the fracture and around the body. During the night, a storm had swept over the camp. [ Thunder ] It had blown down trees, branches, and a live wire. Ryan had been through storms before, so he wasn’t concerned. Didn’t even see the wire. His foot caught on it, and the electricity knocked him unconscious. It was fortunate that he was discovered right away by two men who knew what to do. First, they had to get Ryan off the wire, and second, as he was not breathing, they had to give him artificial respiration immediately. In getting him off the wire, however, it was important not to touch him. They had to use something that wouldn’t conduct electricity. In Ryan’s case, one man went to get a dry pole. The other man took off his GI belt. Each man stood on his dry field jacket to insulate himself. The belt strap was then hooked onto Ryan’s feet while the wire was removed with a broomstick. As soon as he was moved a safe distance from the wire, he was given artificial respiration. Speed was important. One of the soldiers made sure Ryan didn’t have anything loose in his mouth, such as gum or false teeth that might catch in his throat, and his tongue was pulled forward, so he wouldn’t choke on it. One arm was bent at the elbow, so that his head could rest on his hand. The other arm was put over his head. Meanwhile the other soldier had knelt across his legs, placed his palms on the small of Ryan’s back, so that the little finger just touched his lowest rib. Then, with arms straight, he swung forward slowly so that he leaned gradually on Ryan, then he moved back quickly to remove pressure suddenly and completely. But kept his hands in place. He kept doing this 12 to 15 times a minute to the cadence of out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. After a while he got pretty tired, so the other soldier took over. Being sure to keep the same cadence. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air. For over an hour these men kept up artificial respiration, one man massaging the arms to help keep up the circulation. Ryan finally started to breathe by himself and regained consciousness. They watched him closely to make sure he did not stop breathing. Afterward, they wrapped him up in blankets to keep him warm, and made him lie quiet. Hot tea or coffee was just the thing for Ryan at that time. And as soon as they could, they got an ambulance and Ryan was taken to the hospital. The same artificial respiration given Ryan, would be given to a man rescued from drowning. Only one thing extra must be remembered. The moment the victim is on dry land he is laid facedown, and his hips are raised about 10 inches off the ground to let the water drain out of his lungs. Then, he is placed face down, so that his head and shoulders are lower than the rest of his body, if possible. This helps the water drain out while someone is working on him. Now, let’s see what happened to a cook in a field kitchen. It was noon, and the men were preparing the mid-day meal. The cook had had plenty of experience in a kitchen, but maybe it just wasn’t Cook’s day. Suddenly, the pot slipped and the hot contents came pouring down over his legs. Men were sent for medical help and first aid equipment. It must have hurt plenty. He was burned so badly, they couldn’t pull his trousers off. So, they cut them off, laying aside the pieces carefully. They got some cooling burn ointment out of the first-aid kit from the kitchen truck. The cook’s skin was badly blistered and the men knew enough not to break those blisters. If they had, they might’ve caused infection. They gently spread the ointment on with the wooden applicator. While the ointment was being applied, another man brought the cook’s canteen and first-aid packet. He got out the wound tablets. And gave him all of them. He gave him plenty of water to wash them down. If there hadn’t been plenty of water for him to drink, he wouldn’t have given him the tablets. Since the burn was bad, the men were afraid the cook would go into shock. So, they laid him on his back and raised his hips and feet so that his head was down. They arranged boxes and 5-gallon cans around him. So that when a blanket was spread over him to keep him warm, it would not touch the burn. They reassured the cook and told him that medical help was on the way. Minor dangers can all be treated by first-aid. Heat exhaustion, poison ivy, bellyache, foreign particles in the eye, ear, and nose, and splinters. Whatever is used to remove the splinter, a pin or a needle, or a pocketknife, it must first be sterilized with a flame. A small splinter may cause a serious infection if not removed promptly and properly. Now, a dab of iodine from a first-aid kit. The glass container is crushed with the fingers to release the iodine into the swab end. Then, a bandage to keep it clean, being careful not to touch the inside of the dressing. These men were on a long hike. It was summer and plenty hot. A private almost passed out from heat exhaustion. He was taken to a cool, shady place. Clothes were loosened. And his field equipment removed. Salt water was prepared by dissolving two salt tablets in a canteen of water. Then, they made the private drink plenty of the cool saltwater. Saltwater is the treatment for heat exhaustion and will also prevent heat exhaustion if taken before exposure to heat. Wooded country such as this is a good breeding place for ticks. This man’s got one on his leg. This animated drawing shows how the tick buried his head in the soldier’s skin and started to swell. Don’t try to pull it out. These hooks would hold the ticks head in the skin and only the body would come off. And don’t crush the tick in your fingers. Ticks carry fever germs, and you might get infected. But it’s a cinch to remove a tick properly. Hold a gasoline or kerosene-soaked rag against it for a while, or just hold the burning end of a cigarette close to it. And the tick will back out by itself and fall off. If there is a first-aid kit handy, paint the tick bite with iodine. Poison ivy. This man’s got it on his hands. So, he gave himself immediate first-aid by scrubbing long and hard with GI soap to get the poison ivy off. If a rash appears, don’t scratch it, and don’t scrub it. Let it alone and report to sick call. Poison oak and poison sumac get the same treatment. This could happen to you. A soldier got something in his eye. Here’s what to do. Close your eye and let some tears gather. If you’re lucky, the particle will get washed out. Whatever you do, don’t rub the eye. Rubbing only makes it worse. If the tears don’t wash it out, it may be stuck on the lower lid. Look up and get someone to pull the lid down and brush the object out with the corner of a clean handkerchief. To look at the upper lid, roll it up over a matchstick. At the same time, push the lid down gently with the match. If you can’t find the speck easily, or if you should get something sharp in your eye, like a piece of glass or metal, do one thing and one thing only. See the medical officer. A bug in his ear! But did he pick it out with something sharp, like a pin? No, sir. That might’ve broken his eardrum. The soldier who was with him dropped some water in the ear and drowned that bug. If the foreign body is some object which may swell when wet, do not put water in the ear. See a medical officer. And by the way, don’t go digging in your nose if you get something in it. A gentle blow into your handkerchief will get it out. And if something gets stuck in your throat try to hook it out with your finger. If you can’t, try coughing it out. A bellyache. This man hadn’t felt the call of nature for a couple of days. So, he figured he’d take a laxative, thinking it would relieve his pain. But a friend of his stopped him. He knew a pain in the stomach could be appendicitis and a laxative was the worst thing to take in such a case. His friend told him to lie down, while he went for the medical officer. His friend was right, that bellyache meant appendicitis, and called for hospital care. From where you’re sitting this snake is pretty harmless. But it wasn’t so harmless to these soldiers who were off on a reconnaissance patrol problem
sketching the terrain. The corporal was bitten on the hand, and he was badly frightened. The soldiers started giving first-aid right away. First, they made a tourniquet with a handkerchief, tying it around the upper arm… and tightened it by twisting it with a stick. This kept the poison from spreading to the corporal’s body. They sterilized the point of a knife by holding it in a match flame. Then, two crosscuts were made over each fang mark, one-quarter of an inch long, and deep enough to cause the blood to flow freely. No one had a suction cup, so a soldier sucked out the poison with his mouth. Something he could do safely, as long as his mouth was free from cuts or sores. The tourniquet had to be loosened for a few seconds at the end of every 20 minutes, so that some blood would circulate to the corporal’s arm and prevent gangrene from developing. Meanwhile, the suction was continued. At the end of one hour, the tourniquet was removed. No small bandage was handy, so the wound was covered with a handkerchief. A clean handkerchief! [ Music ] In this way, practically all of the poison from the snake bite was removed and a soldier’s life was saved. Remember these first-aid principles you have just seen. They may help you prevent serious, permanent disability, even save lives. Don’t get panicky. Don’t try to do too much. Know your first aid. And know it well. [Music]