Dealing with injuries - Brian McMahon

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Extract from an interview with Helen Frizzell, March 2008

Reproduced with permission of Dr Brian McMahon

So what were some of the war-related injuries that you've seen?

Well, they followed, I mean there were a couple of patterns really. There were very few direct bullet wounds, aimed fire. Most of it was shrapnel - landmines, booby traps - would just about cover it. Burns - well, from the war injuries. Landmines and booby traps, that sort of stuff. Always hard to say about that shrapnel wounds, whether it was artillery, friendly fire or whatever. And the other one was of course the road traffic accidents. I mean, God, hell! And some of those were relating to the traffic, the first Lambretta in the morning going over the road where a landmine was and blowing everybody away, or just straight road traffic accidents where they come into collision with a truck, or whatever. So they were the sort of principal type injuries, and the lower limb injuries in particular relating to the land mines, of course that meant lots of lower limb amputations. Limbs were simply shredded. Nothing you could do about it.

How did you deal with seeing that sort of thing?

Oh, well, I mean, it was nothing new. We'd seen plenty of it before, not in such numbers, but I mean that's the thing if you're not familiar with medical practice - I mean, I worked in Hamilton - crumbs! That area up there, road traffic accidents up there were - gee, it was big time.


Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage

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