Medical Concerns

Those of us in the medical department would be little more than stage trimming without the support of the combat reenactors. You who willingly come to us to be smeared with stage blood, put on a table and probed only to be "revived" with ammonia and taken to the ward. Hoping all the while that your $400 rifle and equipment has not been misplaced by an orderly or hospital volunteer. Let me take this time to thank all of you who have participated or will participate in the hospital scenarios. We could not do it without you.I feel it is important to write to the membership so that some misunderstandings can hopefully be cleared up.

1. The Hospital/Aid Station is not necessarily the place to go for a real medical problem. In the Second Wisconsin our "medical staff" consists of a hand surgeon, an RN, a surgical technology student, and a machine press operator. I would say that we have a wealth of actual medical personnel in our unit. I know of other "surgeons" who are lawyers and interior designers in present life.

For minor cuts and scrapes, you should feel free to see us in case you did not bring your own small first aid kit. At every event, time should be taken to find out if there are EMS personnel at the site. I would like to suggest that location of EMS or actual medical be a standard item at all officers meetings if it is not already done.

2. If there is an actual medical emergency on the battlefield, and an ambulance crew should be sent, the standard "SEND HELP" signal is; rifle (or sword , or flag standard) held in both hands, arms held straight up as if you are making yourself look like a big "T". You can also call "MEDIC". "Medic" is a farb term and therefore makes a good call for help in an actual emergency.

3. In hospital scenarios, I have heard a lot of "farbspeak" (even from medical staff). I have heard able soldiers reassuring their wounded comrades with "Hang in there" and "Be Cool". We need to be careful about what we say in areas where spectators are within hearing. Another part of farbspeak is how we address each other. I have been called "Corpsman" for example, which is what a modern Marine calls Navy medics.

4. When portraying wounded in the hospital or ward, you should keep in mind that men often did their best to remain stoic when wounded or injured. It may work best for the "wounded" to show the pain and fear more through facial expression and less through shouting and screaming. (I'm not saying to be completely quiet, but be careful about over-doing it).

5. Here is a breakdown of medical personnel and how they were addressed:

Surgeon: Captain or above. Addressed by rank, as "Doctor", "Surgeon" or "Sir".

Medical Cadet: 2nd lieutenant (most were medical students and were found at division or higher level hospitals). Research pending on proper address.

Hospital Steward: Equal rank as an Ordinance Sergeant (the rank, not the position) Senior to company 1st Sergeant. Not a commissioned officer, but has signed a contract rather than enlistment papers. A steward could resign from service. The steward was the lowest rank permanently assigned to the hospital. Addressed as "Steward".

The regiment Sergeant Major was to assign ten privates to the regimental hospital as attendants or "orderlies". We always welcome those who are without muskets, (or stamina), or if you are just plain interested, to serve as attendants and in some cases as a patient during the days activities. Working with the aid station during the battle gives one a chance to see the action as well as participate in it.

It would be nice to have one or two members who would like to spend one day at an event with the hospital and not have to leave for drill. This would allow us to apply some more elaborate moulage for a simulated amputation, for example. (It's not that we try to make spectators blow their booyah, but we like to give a frank portrayal of Civil War medicine.
Dave King