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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Work of the Base Hospitals

Work of the Base Hospitals

In April the heavy casualties from the Division were dispersed satisfactorily from the CCS by road, rail, and air to the two active base hospitals and were dealt with very promptly and efficiently. The air evacuation to 3 General Hospital was particularly effective, and serious cases in large numbers were admitted to the hospital, many within twenty-four hours of wounding.

As the advance continued, as already mentioned, evacuation became much less satisfactory and air transport rather meagre.

Remarkably few deaths occurred in the hospitals at this time.

During April 584 battle casualties were admitted to 1 General Hospital, but it was noted that very few were serious and that mine cases were less numerous. The casualties included 8 fractured femurs, 24 fractured legs, 18 chests, 7 abdomens. Thirty cases were transfused. There was more sepsis in the later cases, a natural sequence of the difficulties in the forward areas and, especially, of the long and difficult evacuation.

During May the admissions fell markedly to a total of 450, of which 37 came by train and 52 by air; 84 were German prisoners. The delayed primary suture of wounds had been the established routine for a considerable period and the results at this period were excellent. There were no deaths in battle casualties for the two months following the offensive.

Comparatively few cases of exhaustion were evacuated during this period. In April, when the battles were being fought, only fifty-two cases were admitted to 1 General Hospital.

Whereas during the first three months of 1945 work at 3 General Hospital was light, few cases being admitted from the forward areas, during April there was a marked change, largely brought about by the introduction of air evacuation from Forli to Bari.

Altogether, 1021 cases were admitted to 3 General Hospital in April, including 495 battle casualties. One hundred and seventy-three cases were received by land, 477 cases by sea, and 371 cases by air. Serious surgical, eye, and facio-maxillary cases came from 66 British General Hospital, Rimini, by air. All the patients sent by air arrived in very good condition.

A total of 553 operations was performed, including 33 for delayed primary suture and 68 for the application of plasters. Three cases of gas gangrene were recorded. The great majority of the anaesthetics given consisted of pentothal alone.

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A serious explosion of an ammunition ship occurred in Bari harbour on 9 April and thirty-four serious cases were admitted to 3 General Hospital. A Special Order of the Day highly commending the work of the hospital was issued by the Area Commandant. Many New Zealand troops volunteered as blood donors for the victims of the explosion, and 210 pints were obtained from 230 of the men.