Mobile Surgical Army Hospitals and the Korean War

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Mobile Surgical Army Hospitals and The Korean War

The Korean War was a time of great peril. A time when sixteen United Nations countries came together to rebuild the peace and sovereignty of South Korea [Holloway, Wiley 272]. A time which despite this hopeful thought, resulted in horrific consequences. By the end of the Korean War resulted in four hundred thousand Koreans dead, one hundred thousand orphaned and three million Koreans homeless. Yet, stitched through this horrific event lies a widely known yet largely ignored story of a ray of sunlight that followed the sounds of death and gunshots during this time [Apel 56]. It was not even a war at all but rather a United Nations mission, but whether or not one looks at this event as a war or a multi-national quest for democracy is irrelevant [Apel 21, Kalter 21]. The remarkable aspect of this war or United Nations mission was the fact that this event would lead the world to the realization of a need for the usage of one of the most famous aspects of war since the invention of gun powder. This research report will take an in depth look at that the Mobile Surgical Army Hospitals units [MASH units] and will illustrate the role that they played during the Korean War and how they affected the lives Koreans as well as people around the world. Although used for a short period of time during the end of second world war, MASH units did not come into full use until the Korean War [Kalter 22]. The First Mobile Surgical Army Hospital of the Korean War began in September 1st, 1950, nine weeks after the North Korean invasion [Apel 14]. The purpose of it was to provide immediate care to injured soldiers [Apel 14]. However, MASH units did far more than provide quick and effective treatment to soldiers [Apel 56]. In addition to providing efficient and effective care to patients, MASH units revolutionized war. MASH units played a key role in the Korean War by providing immediate and effective care to injured soldiers, inspiring a need for the usage of helicopters and aiding in the restoring of South Korean self-worth [Apel 53, 56, 66]. The MASH units of the Korean War consisted mainly of young medical personnel who were children during the most recent war of World War II [Kalter 22]. Of the over nine hundred doctors who were on MASH unit reserve lists, many of the doctors were in their mid to late twenties and and were sent to MASH units soon after their completion of university [Kalter 22]. Many American doctors were indebted to the government for giving them deferments to finish medical school and therefore, feeling that they were more obliged to served in the war effort, founded themselves stationed at these mobile hospitals [Apel 15-17, Kalter 22]. MASH units were designed to follow the front lines of the war [Apel 56, 57]. During the coarse of one year, the MASH 8076 moved an average of once every three weeks [Apel 56, 57]. Due to this, MASH units were not equipped with the basic necessities of most homes let alone most hospitals. Because of this, doctors of MASH units were told to, 'unlearn the very excellent and beautiful principles necessary for civil practise and learn the rapid and adequate sort of car or massive wounds and massive trauma [Apel 33].' MASH units were all composed of tents, this ensured that during times in which MASH units had to move, structures could be taken down and moved easily and effectively [Apel 51]. Also, there was an incredible lack of light in the operating rooms of the MASH units [Apel 54]. In some cases, operating rooms would only have a few single sources of light and an orderly would have to bend the light using a mirror in order for the surgeon to have enough light to be capable of operating. Sanitation levels in MASH units were also extremely low [Apel 54 and 32]. Due to the fact that MASH units were composed of tents, there were few sterile hallways that could play a role in blocking the spread of germs an infection [Apel 54]. In general,...
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