WW II Gas Casualty First Aid Kit

Training with the M2A2 Service Gas Mask, Air Service Command, Daniel Field, GA, July 1943
Training with the M2A2 Service Gas Mask, Air Service Command, Daniel Field, GA, July 1943.

Today in WW II: 18 Nov 1940 Alfred Loomis suggests the electronic air navigation system which was later developed into LORAN [long range navigation system] at MIT.  More 
18 Nov 1941 British Eighth Army offensive in Libya, Operation Crusader.
18 Nov 1943 Intensive RAF Bomber Command attack on Berlin, Germany begins with a 440 plane mission that causes only light damage, killing 131 while RAF loses 9 aircraft and 53 aviators.
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World War II Gas Casualty First Aid Kit

Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty
Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty

The Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty was typically carried in vehicles for treatment of injury due to chemical agents. FM 21-11 First Aid For Soldiers dated 7 April 1943 indicates an allotment of one Gas Casualty First Aid Kit for each 25 soldiers. The original stock number of the kit was 97764, later 9776400.

The Gas Casualty First Aid Kit was a metal box, a little smaller than the Motor Vehicle First Aid Kit (12 Unit). Early boxes were yellow with red markings, "First Aid" and "FOR GAS CASUALTIES ONLY" with Medical Dept. seal in the center (photo above). Later cases were olive drab with the same text in black markings plus the stock number added.

Contents of the Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty

Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty open to see contents.  Eye and nose drops carton and BAL ointment tubes removed to show packing of eye solution and protective ointment on bottom level
Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty open to see contents. Eye and nose drops carton and BAL ointment tubes removed to show packing of eye solution and protective ointment on bottom level.

Quoting from Medical Department United States Army in World War II, Chapter III, Chemical Warfare:

The teaching of first aid in chemical warfare was extremely difficult. Most chemical agents required separate rituals, and it was necessary for the soldier to be able to distinguish between different gases at a time when circumstances would make the differentiation difficult if not impossible. Instruction on these matters during the war was gradually made as simple as possible, with the idea that if the soldier did not bear in mind all the details he had been taught at least he would remember certain essential points.

To provide first aid to gas casualties, ointments and fluids for treatment and decontamination of various chemical agents were provided in the Gas Casualty First Aid Kit, along with an instruction sheet (photo above). Early kits were packed with:

Item Treatment For
Amyl Nitrate cyanide contamination
Drops, Eye & Nose relief & congestion in eye & nose
Ointment, Eye, M-1 Lewisite eye contamination
Ointment, Pontocaine Compound itching and pain
Ointment, Protective, M-4 (Dichloramine-T in Triacetin) liquid vesicant skin contamination
Pads, Cotton liquid vesicant removal
Solution, Copper, Sulfate, 10% phosphorous burns
Solution, Hydrogen, Peroxide, 8% liquid Lewisite skin contamination

The contents evolved as the war progressed. War Department Technical Manual 8-285 Treatment of Casualties from Chemical Agents was revised almost annually during the war as research and experience dictated changes. Eye ointment M-1 was recommended for lewisite contamination until September 1943, when BAL (British Anti-Lewisite) ointment, in 3/4-ounce tubes, was approved for issue in Kit, First Aid, Gas Casualty, and other gas kits, for treatment of casualties caused by lewisite and other arsenical vesicants. M-5 protective ointment became the treatment for liquid mustard contamination on the skin after the war.

Reports from Europe in 1944 suggested that pads impregnated with copper sulfate would be useful for treatment of white phosphorus burns. The pad was combined with water from a soldier's canteen forming copper sulfate solution on the pad which would prevent the phosphorous from re-igniting and make it easer to remove. An issue of double-napped flannel pads, 3 by 3 inches, impregnated with copper sulfate and packed three to an envelope, was approved and standardized in 1945 for issue to individual soldiers.

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