Sir Neville Howse (VC), Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick and Private Martin O'Meara (VC) and their contributions to Australian military medicine

Anthony Devenish, Peter O'Meara

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Abstract

Medical personnel serving with the Defence Forces have contributed to the evolution of trauma treatment and the advancement of prehospital care within the military environment. This paper investigates the stories of an Australian Medical Officer, Sir Neville Howse, and two stretcher bearers, Private John Simpson (Kirkpatrick) and Private Martin O'Meara, In particular it describes the gruelling conditions under which they performed their roles, and reflects on the legacy that they have left behind in Australian society. While it is widely acknowledged that conflicts such as World War One should never have happened, as civilian and defence force paramedics, we should never forget the service and sacrifice of defence force medical personnel and their contribution to the body of knowledge on the treatment of trauma. These men and women bravely provided emergency care in the most harrowing conditions possible. However, men like Martin O'Meara may not have been given the same status in society today as Sir Neville Howse or Simpson and his donkey, due to the public's lack of awareness and acceptance of war neurosis and conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder, reactive psychosis and somatoform disorders which were suffered by many soldiers during their wartime service and on their return home after fighting in war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAustralasian Journal of Paramedicine
Volume8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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