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September 12, 1959


Author Affiliations

U. S. Army

Chief, Department of Atomic Casualties Studies, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D. C.

JAMA. 1959;171(2):195-197. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.73010200018014e

What is first aid? In theory, it tries to save life and limb and minimize discomfort and deformity. In practice it far too often has meant covering the injury and hastily disposing of the injured person to a medical facility. One must realistically appraise the foreseeable conditions which may prevail in a mass-casualty situation incident to nuclear weapons warfare. Such appraisal reveals certain features. First aid will be given for the most part by relatively inexperienced people immediately adjacent to the place where the injury took place. It will be given with materials available at that time and place. This premise must be kept clearly in mind if we are to achieve the greatest yield from this type of care.

One must also face the disturbing probability of disrupted communications, the like of which we have not experienced in the past. This implies that early care must be provided locally