“No One Can Give Them Any Further Care”

The sun shines, the garden sparkles brightly with dew, and all is well today; and yet despite the splendour of a fair August morning, it is important to be mindful that in other places and times all is not well, and terror often falls from the sky. Sixty-five years ago today, the Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. After the Bomb fell, and their injuries were sustained, the wounded in their thousands could not be helped and were thus victimized twice: there were few physicians, nurses or hospitals left to give aid, care or comfort, and the survivors wandered, “purposeless, insensate.” An account of conditions after the Bomb detonated: [via The Galloping Beaver]

The status of medical facilities and personnel dramatically illustrates the difficulties facing authorities. Of more than 200 doctors in Hiroshima before the attack, over 90 percent were casualties and only about 30 physicians were able to perform their normal duties a month after the raid. Out of 1,780 nurses, 1,654 were killed or injured. Through some stocks of supplies had been dispersed, many were destroyed. Only three out of 45 civilian hospitals could be used, and two large Army hospitals were rendered unusable. Those within 3,000 feet of ground zero were totally destroyed, and the mortality rate of the occupants was practically 100 percent. Two large hospitals of reinforced concrete construction were located 4,900 feet from ground zero. The basic structures remained erect but there was such severe interior damage that neither was able to resume operation as a hospital for some time and the casualty rate was approximately 90 percent, due primarily to falling plaster, flying glass, and fire. Hospitals and clinics beyond 7,000 feet, though often remaining standing, were badly damaged and contained many casualties from flying glass or other missiles.

With such elimination of facilities and personnel, the lack of care and rescue activities at the time of the disaster is understandable; still, the eyewitness account of Father Siemes shows how this lack of first-aid contributed to the seriousness of casualties. At the improvised first-aid stations, he reports:

. . . Iodine is applied to the wounds but they are left uncleansed. Neither ointment nor other therapeutic agents are available. Those that have been brought in are laid on the floor and no one can give them any further care. What could one do when all means are lacking? Among the passerby, there are many who are uninjured. In a purposeless, insensate manner, distraught by the magnitude of the disaster, most of them rush by and none conceives the thought of organizing help on his own initiative. They are concerned only with the welfare of their own families–in the official aid stations and hospitals, a good third or half of those that had been brought in died. They lay about there almost without care, and a very high percentage succumbed. Everything was lacking, doctors, assistants, dressings, drugs, etc. . .

Effective medical help had to be sent in from in the outside, and arrived only after a considerable delay.

Further comment seems superfluous.


  1. #1 by mog on Friday 06 August 2010 - 1159

    I remember when I was a child that CND members would draw many many outlines of people on the ground, even as a child it was startling to see. I asked my mum why the drawings were there and her reply was something about “a terrible thing, a bomb”

    In the late 1970s I went to a lecture on the medical effects of radiation and how ‘we’ would provide a service and what we would do, much of it against what we would normally do. The most seriously ill would have no treatment, too late to help. I can’t remember if it was those with minimal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, or those with no symptoms, who would be treated by taking blood, pints, to remove the damaged blood cells and shock the body into producing new undamaged cells.

    It was all very disturbing and, one has to wonder how much of that approach has changed in 30years. Of course it’s all academic as in the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there may not be anyone left to give care.

    Let’s hope we never have to deal with this

  2. #2 by jennjilks on Friday 06 August 2010 - 1539

    We must remember history. It is the only way we’ll learn from the past. Keep on with your wonderful timely posts.

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