The Riddle of Shock: Resuscitation

Saline infusion set

The development of saline infusion was stimulated by war experiences and was used before blood transfusions became common to replace fluids lost due to shock. Saline was first used to treat the shock of cholera by Thomas Latta in 1832. A lot of saline infusions were given subcutaneously and rectally. Gum acacia was preferable to saline for infusion.

A British soldier making early morning tea at Sulva during the Gallipoli campaign, 1915. IWM (Q13611)

A British soldier making early morning tea at Sulva during the Gallipoli campaign, 1915. IWM (Q13611)

British troops having hot tea on their way out from the trenches during the Battle of the Somme, Nov 1917. IWM (Q4542)

Hot drinks: tea and coffee

Wounded soldiers were given tea and coffee to help prevent shock. Casualties in CCSs could be given up to a pint of either to ensure hydration and keep them warm before surgery.

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) loading an ambulance with disinfected blankets, Feb 1918

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) loading an ambulance with disinfected blankets, Feb 1918

Battle of Amiens. Arranging blankets to shade from the sun wounded awaiting evacuation from a Field Dressing Station at Le Quesnel, 11 August 1918. © IWM (Q 7299)

Army blanket

Heated blankets, beds and ambulances were used to keep soldiers warm. Some CCSs had a resuscitation ward where soldiers too weak for surgery could be warmed with heated beds and blankets, or receive blood transfusions.

 

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