Historic Trentham, 1914-1917: The Story of a New Zealand Military Training Camp, and Some Account of the Daily Round of the Troops within Its Bounds
The Medical Side of Camp
The Medical Side of Camp
Stretcher beds, stretcher beds, stretcher parade;
Boots in perfection of dressing array'd,
Tinware that glitters and blankets that lie
Skilfully folded and all "apple-pie."
Turn but one moment, and say: "What is up?"
"Only we're after the P.M.O.'s cup."
The medical administration of Trentham Camp deals with the personal examination and inspection of troops, the treatment of the sick, and the inspection of the Camp, which is divided, for medical purposes, into the hospital division, observation huts, and the camp division.
The personal examination of troops practically means that the troops are under constant medical supervision. Everyman on entering Camp is examined. All unlikely men—those suffering from infectious or contagious disease or from any noticeable infirmity or disability—are weeded out and again examined, and either sent into hospital for treatment, returned to their unit as fit, or put down for examination by the visiting Medical Board at its next sitting. In this case a full report is made to the Principal Medical Officer, who sends it on to the Board. As a fourth alternative, the men are ordered to attend sick parades for treatment.
While in camp all soldiers have to undergo medical examination for infectious disease twice a week. In addition to this, as soon as possible after arrival in camp, and again just before embarking, the whole of each Reinforcement is paraded for throat examination. At this parade a swab is taken and sealed up in a phial. These swabs are immediately forwarded to the laboratory for microscopical examination, and the result of this is advised to Camp on the same day.
If the test shows that any man is a carrier of infectious organisms, he is isolated in a special camp set aside for the purpose. These men in isolation are paraded twice a day at the inhaling - room, where the fumes of chemicals are inhaled, with the result that the germs are destroyed. The state of their throats is tested every morning by means of swabbing, and no man is released until two clear swabs have been obtained. This system has proved successful in checking the spread of such diseases as cerebrospinal fever and diphtheria. Men are inspected, also, on leaving camp or for embarkation, the examination in the latter case being more complete.
Apart from these regular examinations by the doctors, the soldier in Camp who makes acquaintance with the Camp hospitals does so by the page 112medium of the sick parade. Any man who feels ill and wishes to report sick is paraded at the medical inspection hut by the orderly corporal of his unit. This n.c.o. fills in a slip with the particulars of the man's name, unit, and symptoms, and when the men on sick parade are called in from the large waiting-room by the medical officers, their corporals accompany them and lay the slips of paper before the medical officer. Particulars of the patients' temperatures are taken while in the waiting-room by the medical orderlies, and with this information before them the medical officers—there are usually three or more in attendance—proceed to diagnose the cases and to prescribe for them. If ill enough to warrant it, the soldier may be sent into hospital or be taken to the observation hut. Others may be ordered light duty or be given medicine, with exemption from duty.
The observation hut is one in which men are detained day by day, when not ill enough to warrant their being put in hospital, but who are considered as unfit to remain in the Camp. In the observation hut they get a comfortable bed and rest, with medical attendance and food. Hospital orderlies are in charge, and the patients receive the same treatment as if in hospital, except that they are classed as "sick in lines."
When admitted to hospital, the men are taken to the ward to which they are posted, and fitted out with a hospital kit. This consists of plate, basin, mug, knife, fork, spoon, towel, coat, trousers, pyjamas, pillow-case, sheets, socks, shirts, and slippers. Blankets and mattresses are provided in the wards. Their own kits are then placed in the pack store until they are discharged from hospital. On admission to hospital the man is immediately seen by the medical officer in charge and treatment ordered. The Hospital Records Office is at once notified of his admission, and his next of kin is communicated with by telegram, advising the nature of his sickness and his condition at that time.
The hospital buildings, as already mentioned in an earlier chapter, include the Cottage Hospital, Wairarapa Ward, Wellington Racing Club Ward, the Fever Hospital, Izard's Convalescent Home, and the Casualty Ward. All of these wards are staffed by medical officers, nurses, wardmasters, and orderlies of the New Zealand Medical Corps, their establishment being over one hundred strong. The staff consists of eight medical officers, one sanitary officer, one quartermaster, nine nurses, and ninety n.c.o.'s and men, all of whom are specially trained for the work. The hospital has its own laboratory, and an important branch is that of the chiropodist and his staff, who are kept constantly employed in tending the soldiers' feet.page 113 page 114
Medical Staff, Trentham Camp Standing—Lt.-Col. J. Whitton (temp, attached), Lt.-Col. Barcroft (temp, attached), Lieut. Vivian, Capt. Johnston. Capt. Cairns,
Sitting— Capt. Talbot, Major J. P. D. Leahy, Lt.-Col. P. O. Andrew (P.M.O.), Major J. Craig, Capt. S. Sergeant. Musketry Instructional and Range Warden Staff
Musketry Field Practices.
A company of Infantry about to deliver a burst of "rapid fire."
A Company of Infantry in the Attack who have occupied an enemy's trench, which has been devastated by Artillery Fire, and endeavour to rebuild the trench by means of sandbags, but are surprised by a counter attack which they now have to beat off.
To encourage competition in cleanliness among the troops, a silver challenge cup presented by medical officers is held for one week by the company whose huts have been kept in the best order during the preceding week. In addition to this, the winners and runners-up are given extra leave from Camp. There is no doubt that a keen interest in cleanliness has been fostered among the troops, and this renders the work of inspecting their huts all the more arduous.
The inspection of the Camp by medical officers entails frequent visits to the lines, ablution stands, baths, officers' mess, hutments, latrines, cookhouses, dining-rooms, drying-rooms, canteen—both when closed and when open—shops, halls and institutes, guard-rooms, incinerators, and horse lines. The inspection of meat, milk, and foodstuffs of all kinds is carried out daily, and no hesitation is shown in condemning any quantity that is considered to be unfit for consumption. Every day the whole of the Camp is inspected at least three times, except under exceptional circumstances. The supervision of the Camp includes the inspection of certain residences within a radius of one mile of the Camp, since under new regulations the jurisdiction of the military authorities has been extended to include that area. The medical officer of the day at Trentham Camp also superintends the attendance on civilians and the wives and families of soldiers living in the district near the Camp, there being no civilian doctor resident in the locality. Like his fellow officers in the fighting forces, the orderly medical officer has a busy time during his twenty-four hours of continuous duty. Every man who is to be "boarded" before the visiting Medical Board must be examined first by the orderly officer, and he has to attend to casualties and inspect prisoners brought to Camp by the night picket on the last train from town.
Inoculation of troops with typhoid anti-bacillus just before sailing is another heavy duty of the Camp medical staff, and in the camp division the sanitary officer has to see that all sanitary arrangements are fullv and carefully carried out.