Military field hospital

Date: 12.12.2015 Category: Military - Defense

Military field hospital

What is a military field hospital?

A military field hospital is a mini hospital that takes care of injured soldiers or any other casualty of a military war on a temporary basis before they are referred to more advanced medical care in permanent hospitals. The general structure of a military field hospital entails a tent, medical personnel and medical equipment. A red crescent, Red Cross or certain symbols are always attached to the tents so that they can be easily identified and not attacked. In most instances, the symbols are bound on the top of the tents so that they can aerially be visible.

Background history

In the ancient era, when a soldier was wounded, he was abandoned on the field where he fell was not helped out. Later, the litter-bearers, assigned by Napoleon’s army, were the first ever to help soldiers wounded in battlefields. They consisted of expendable and inept soldiers. Another army similar to that led by George Washington (American Colonel Army) also assigned litter-bearers to offer first aid attention to wounded soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary army. A system that is still used till today known as the three tiered evacuation system was an invention of Dr. Letterman Jonathan in 1862. His intervention in offering medical attention to the Army of Potomac by training first aiders, who used horses and wagons, quickened the rate of assisting the wounded soldiers.

Setting up a military hospital

A military field hospital ought to be flexible in terms of ability to be expanded and availability of basic first aid equipment. It should be self-efficient to operate in areas that lack drinking water, electricity and adverse climatic conditions. Containers are always preferred in setting up the hospitals and in line with that, it must be possible to expand them about three times larger than their regular sizes. This is to enable accommodation of larger stores, medical personnel, and medical equipment. To ensure operational section sterility, water and air tight locks ought to be installed between the tents and the containers. The hospital must have environmental control mechanisms to enable it to function in temperatures ranging from -100 C to 500 C. For the case of ventilation units, they must be customized with filtration capabilities.

Services provided in a military field hospital

In the modern world, a completely equipped field hospital provides services that are about the same standard as those offered by permanent hospitals. Some of the services are Post op care, inpatient care, telemedicine, imaging, pharmacy, water treatment, and communication. 

Mode of attending to casualties

Blood is a fundamental requirement in a military field hospital as a precaution of excessive blood loss due to injuries that may be as a result of gun shots or other causes. The medical response personnel is trained to transfuse blood to injured soldiers to prevent an instance of shock related death caused by lack of blood to the brain.  Deep wound injuries are always attended to using antibiotics that prevent any possibilities of wound infection. Also provided by a military field hospital is a psychological trauma therapy that may be caused by a blast. This is because victims of war are likely to develop psychological trauma, which is a stress disorder.

Military Field Hospitals

When responding to civil unrest, tragedies, natural disasters and wars, there is usually a need for comprehensive medical care for the military personnel or the armed forces. Such military medical setups are typically temporary, or semi-permanent establishments meant to cater for the injured or the sick soldiers. These institutions are better known as Military Field Hospitals. Some are mobile while others are semi-mobile, whereby they can be evacuated when there is an emergency or need for other alternative medical attention elsewhere. During military operations, the hospitals are equipped with necessary and sufficient requirements to cushion the casualties. This article discusses different types of military field hospitals as well as a little comparison of the hospitals to the past establishment of the same hospitals.

Evacuation Hospitals

These are Military Field Hospitals that typically act as mobile carriers. They are mainly used for evacuation purposes; relocating different patients to different locations, for example, evacuating patients to a general hospital. The construction of these hospitals was aimed towards economizing on the existing resources. Evacuation hospitals provide services such as sorting/grouping of different patients, determining definitive treatments and even the transportation of armed forces from other hospitals.

Hospital centres

These centres include shelters housed under a permanent or improvised buildings consisting of adequate water supply, sewerage system, and electricity supply. Hospital centres have convalescent camps and also central laboratories. During World War II, they were considered an economic advantage because they simplified evacuation problems.

Station Hospitals

They are mostly located in the camps, post and military stations. Station Hospitals cater for local personnel in the interior zones and are primarily established in permanent buildings. Their locations are typically determined by a higher population of military personnel. In the past, they were mostly set up in tents. Their bed capacity accounted for around 900 beds per set up. Also, they were designated (numbered).

Surgical Hospitals

Such hospitals consist of mobile units that provide primary services regarding surgeries. Apparently, they are aimed at availing facilities for surgical procedures for a limited number of military individuals. During past wars like the World War II, they were used for emergency purposes to substitute the evacuation hospitals. They also acted as a backup to other units such as the clearing stations.

Prisoner of war hospitals

Prisoner of war hospitals are hospitals meant to provide medical care and hospital accommodation for enemies captured during wars. The establishment of such hospitals is usually in agreement with the Geneva Convention, which provides for the primary medical attention for the POWs. POWs hospitals mainly operate under the service command. During the Second World War, POWs held at the army posts were usually under the watch of army personnel who surrounded the camps with barbed wire fences.

Convalescent Hospitals

These hospitals were most common in the World War II. They were designed for patients who required little medical attention. Also, they were useful for patients who needed rehabilitation or observation from health practitioners. The Convalescent Hospitals operated with a bed capacity of around 3000 and had the ability to expand to meet the requirement of about 5000 patients. Here, patients were mainly brought in from evacuation hospitals or clearing stations. These patients were later returned to evacuation centres. At times, they were taken to replacement centres.