Ivan M. Chizh, Igor V. Karpenko
FSAEI HE I.M. Sechenov First MSMU MOH Russia (Sechenov University)
8 Trubetskaya St., building 2, Moscow 119991, Russia
The authors consider the distinguishing features of medical support for the Russian army during World War I, the military and military-medical aspects of which have not been sufficiently studied in Russia. During World War I, the Russian army’s medical service faced a number of difficulties. There was a shortage of doctors and nurses, and weak surgical training, especially in regions close to the frontline. During World War I, weapons of mass destruction were used for the first time – these were poisonous substances: on the Western Front in the region of the Ieperlee river, the Germans used a gas based on chlorine, later called mustard gas (as a result, about 5,000 people died). For the first time, the army’s medical service had to provide assistance in cases where weapons of mass destruction were used by the enemy, developing methods for providing medical care in cases of poisoning. During military operations, the military medical service’s management system had to be changed. As a result of these changes, the Office of the Supreme Chief of the Sanitary and Evacuation Department was created. A member of the State Council, Adjutant-General Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg, was appointed as its head. At the same time, mobile surgical detachments, surgical groups and other types of mobile surgical reserves were created; there was an increase in surgical activity at the main dressing stations; specialized medical assistance was created (opthalmic units, departments and hospitals for maxillofacial wounds and medical facilities for the injured). The achievements of Russian military medicine also include relatively widespread use of X-ray machines in the field. The active use of a motorized ambulance service began in the field army. By the beginning of the war, the sanitary automobile transport service consisted of 15 ambulance detachments, each of which numbered 20 cars. A well-equipped railway ambulance transport service was created: 74 military sanitary trains were working at the front in September 1914, and by December 1916 their number had increased to about 400. Mandatory vaccinations against typhoid and cholera were introduced, front-line laboratories were set up, and mobile disinfection chambers were used. As a result, there were no major outbreaks of infectious diseases in the Russian army during the war.
Keywords: military medicine, World War I, Russian army, evacuation, medical care