• News
  • Health
    • Injury
    • Trauma

Prehospital Care - When Urgent Medical Attention Saves Lives

312Shares
4.6KViews

Developments in prehospital care started to take place in the last few years of the 18th century.

There were several wars waged during the late 18th century that continued until the early 19th century.

Soldiers were left dying on the frontlines and in different combat zones.

One French doctor did something about it, which, upon consideration, would be equivalent to contemporary prehospital care.

A Civil War Ambulance

COPYRIGHT_SPINE: Published on https://spinal-injury.net/prehospital-care/ by Dr. Bill Butcher on 2022-10-24T11:17:12.411Z

The ‘Flying Ambulances’

A version of 18th-cetury prehospital care began in 1797.

Dominique-Jean Larrey (1766-1842) designed the ambulance volante or “flying ambulances” to evacuate casualties from the battlefield.

Larrey, a French military doctor and surgeon - he fought in the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-815) - introduced it during the Italian campaign.

The flying ambulances were horse drawn wagons for collecting and carrying the wounded from the battlefield to base hospitals.

He described this concept in minute detail in a report from the Italian Campaign of 1797. It consisted of a system of transport of medical supplies and supporting personnel.

The personnel included:

  • a doctor
  • a quartermaster
  • a noncommissioned officer
  • a drummer boy (who carried the bandages)
  • 24 infantrymen

The flying ambulances were a success, and this idea was subsequently taken up by other armies.

Even in the harsh desert terrain, his flying ambulances would collect the wounded in less than 15 minutes.

Larrey was soon organizing flying ambulances for the entire French Army.

This transport system served not only as a boost in morale for the rank-and-file officers of the French Revolutionary Armies, but it also effected a greater and realistic opportunity for the treatment and survival of the wounded.

A colored illustration of an ambulance volante or ‘flying ambulance’ with two large wheels and drawn by two horses
A colored illustration of an ambulance volante or ‘flying ambulance’ with two large wheels and drawn by two horses

Triage

Dominique-Jean Larrey was the first surgeon to treat battlefield casualties where they were injured, rather than waiting for the finish of the battle at the end of the day.

He also introduced the first descriptions of triage. Below is a long explanation from him:

The best plan that can be adopted in such emergencies, to prevent the evil consequences of leaving soldiers who are severely wounded without assistance, is to place the ambulances as near as possible to the line of the battle, and to establish headquarters, to which all the wounded, who require delicate operations, shall be collected to be operated upon by the surgeon-general.

- Dominique-Jean Larrey (1766-1842)

A painting of Dominique-Jean Larrey and a military officer holding a wounded soldier as two other officers watch
A painting of Dominique-Jean Larrey and a military officer holding a wounded soldier as two other officers watch

Larrey also specified who shall be prioritized:

Those who are dangerously wounded should receive the first attention, without regard to rank or distinction. They who are injured in a less degree may wait until their brethren-in-arms, who are badly mutilated, have been operated and dressed, otherwise the latter would not survive many hours; rarely until the succeeding day.

- Dominique-Jean Larrey (1766-1842)

He reasoned out:

Besides with a slight wound, it is easy to repair to the hospital of the first or second line, especially for the officers who generally have means of transportation. Finally, life is not endangered by such wounds.

- Dominique-Jean Larrey (1766-1842)

That was how prehospital care was carried out during Larrey’s time.

Share: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher - With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

Recent Articles

  • Incomplete Quadriplegia - A Bit Of Sensation, A Bit Of Control

    Injury

    Incomplete Quadriplegia - A Bit Of Sensation, A Bit Of Control

    For the condition known as incomplete quadriplegia, the possibility to recover is higher when compared to a complete quadriplegia. It can all depend on the type or the severity of the injury that the spine incurred. Recovery is probable but the journey will be long.

  • Pressure Sore Stages - From Mild Reddening To Damaged Tissues

    Injury

    Pressure Sore Stages - From Mild Reddening To Damaged Tissues

    Having sufficient knowledge of pressure sore stages is important. The wound becomes more serious as each stage develops. Those who are affected need to know what to do for each stage of their pressure sore as it will help them manage their condition.

  • Assistance Dog Tasks - The Wonderful Helper With Four Feet

    Injury

    Assistance Dog Tasks - The Wonderful Helper With Four Feet

    Sometimes, the help wheelchair users can receive are not from people but from animals, specifically from assistance dogs. These well-trained dogs can assist handicapped people with different things. The list of assistance dog tasks is long, and it’s quite comforting to know that certain dogs can aid them live easily.

  • Four Track Skiing - Testing Balance, Leg Strength, And Stability

    Injury

    Four Track Skiing - Testing Balance, Leg Strength, And Stability

    Perhaps for most people, skiing is a wonderful pastime, but for others, it’s a form of physical therapy. People who had stroke, for example, do four track skiing. This activity allows them to work on their muscles and improve their condition.

  • Sexuality And Spinal Cord Injury - Affecting One’s Sexual Function

    Injury

    Sexuality And Spinal Cord Injury - Affecting One’s Sexual Function

    A healthy sex life is part of a healthy relationship. Issues regarding sexuality and spinal cord injury upset couples even if only one of them incurred the said injury. Consulting a doctor is vital to learn about medical ways that offer solutions.

  • Halo Traction - Helping Injured People With Broken Necks

    Injury

    Halo Traction - Helping Injured People With Broken Necks

    For serious neck injuries, a halo traction is advised. It’s also recommended for those born with a curved spine. It helps to stretch and straighten the spine in a gentle manner. Halo traction is also given to those who underwent a spine or neck surgery.

  • Disabled Flying Guide - Never Allow Your Disability To Get In The Way

    Health

    Disabled Flying Guide - Never Allow Your Disability To Get In The Way

    Given their limited mobility, wheelchair users may not be keen on traveling to faraway places. More so if they must get in an airplane just to get to their destination. Knowing some tips from a disabled flying guide will help them deal with it easily.

  • Trauma Resuscitation - Returning Consciousness To Those Near To Death

    Trauma

    Trauma Resuscitation - Returning Consciousness To Those Near To Death

    The early focus of trauma resuscitation in the 18th century were people who drowned. As further studies on lungs widened the scope of the knowledge of doctors regarding this major internal organ, certain progress in the area of resuscitation were achieved. Improvements are still being made up to contemporary times.

  • Incomplete History Of Trauma - From Ancient Egypt To 20th-Century America

    Trauma

    Incomplete History Of Trauma - From Ancient Egypt To 20th-Century America

    Perusing the incomplete history of trauma will initially take one during the ancient times, particularly in Egypt, where an ancient manuscript shed light on how people of long time ago performed surgery. Several advancements were already seen in the early centuries. Further studies were conducted and more medical structures were built in the 19th century and in the 20th century.

  • Injury Severity Score - Determining The Seriousness Of Injuries

  • Tension Pneumothorax - Trouble In The Heart And Lungs

  • Cerebral Perfusion Pressure - Ensuring Blood Flow In The Brain

  • Pelvic Binder - Managing Pelvic Injuries And Trauma Quickly

  • Quadriplegia - Causes Paralysis From The Neck Down To Trunk, Arms, And Legs