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Inject Morphine Where Necessary

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Inject Morphine Where Necessary

Each platoon had stretcher bearers. Stretcher bearers wore a white band with a red cross on their shoulder to indicate to the enemy that they were not armed and that they were protected by the Geneva Convention, which has long since, I think, gone out the window, but at that time was still effective. And the stretcher bearers had little syringe-like tubes, they could stick a needle into the patient and squeeze it and inject morphine, where necessary. So the first thing that patient saw was a stretcher bearer with his morphine, if necessary, and his bandages which he carried lots of. And two stretcher bearers would pick the casualty up on a stretcher and bring him back to the regimental aid post. The regimental aid post was central to the line. And that was, and the regimental aid, the medical doctor of the unit, was in the RAP, the regimental aid post. And the first thing I saw was the stretcher bearer bring in the casualty, and put him down on the ground or floor or wherever I was. I would check him over and they would explain what they had done, and I would do whatever was necessary further than that. But my important, the important thing I had to do was examine the patient fully and find out all the things that were the matter with him, put them on a tag and fasten it on his uniform and then get the patient transferred to a jeep and send the jeep back to the casualty clearing station which would be further back the line. Casualty clearing station then, that was this field ambulance around the casualty clearing station. They would examine and if they needed plasma or something like that or a cast they would apply the cast to the plasma, check the bandaging and so on, and then they would decide whether he should go by plane to an English hospital or stay there and just be treated locally or go to a small hospital further back or at a larger hospital, depending. Different hospitals had different functions, and there were surgical units that usually were in hospitals, but also there were advanced surgical units sometimes. They were sent up and they were attached to casualty clearing stations for a time. That’s the way the whole thing was, to get the patient back, back, and at the right point, get them treated and then back in the field when they could make it.

Dr. Theal describes the steps involved in moving the wounded back to the appropriate level of care.

Dr. Gordon Irvine Theal

Dr. Theal was born in Grimsby, Ontario on April 2, 1916. His father, a farmer, operated a feed mill and later became a grocer, at which time Dr. Theal was old enough to help in the family business. At the insistence of some friends, he enrolled in Queens University’s medical school in Toronto. With the outbreak of war, he joined the Officer Training Corps. After graduating, Dr. Theal married and moved to British Columbia, where he went from camp to camp, encouraging enlistment in the regular forces. After shipping overseas and a couple postings in England, he was shipped to France during the D-Day invasion. His brigade accompanied the Allied advance from France to Holland. During this time, Dr. Theal and his team performed triage. This was the first contact the wounded had with a doctor and he would provide emergency medical treatment before the wounded moved back to the larger field hospitals. After completing his tour, Dr. Theal returned home to Ontario, to his wife and daughter, and took up private practice. He currently resides in Courtney, British Columbia.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Dr. Gordon Irvine Theal
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

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