WW II Arctic First Aid Kit
Medical and other supplies piled on the beach, Attu, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 20 May 1943.
Development of the World War II Arctic First Aid Kit
1944 Photo of Arctic First Aid Kit.
The Experimental Board, Alaskan Department, which had been established during 1941 to conduct tests during maneuvers, conducted experiments to determine the appropriate items to be contained in medical chests and kits needed by small U.S. Army units. These kits when developed were confirmed by their use in the 1944 maneuvers. The Arctic First Aid Kit, pictured above, was packaged in a small suitcase-sized case containing items deemed necessary for a small detachment, selected to remain usable under typical conditions in the Alaska zone of operations. The "Kit, First-Aid, Arctic, Complete" was assigned Medical Department No. 9776200 while the case alone was No. 9766200.
Testing the Arctic First Aid Kit
To determine the effects of freezing on common medical supplies, an extensive test was conducted in February 1943. Eighty-nine items, mostly Medical Catalog Class 1 (Drugs, chemicals, etc.) and Class 9 (Field Equipment & Supplies), were subjected to a temperature of -20°F., and then thawed and examined for any changes. Many of the items suffered no ill effects although frozen solid.
For example, fifty units of blood plasma were subjected to freezing temperatures and the distilled water was frozen solid in the bottles. Only a very few bottles were cracked and, although the rubber stoppers were raised about 1/8 inch, no seals were broken. There was no precipitation or other obvious change in the appearance of the distilled water. Another test with medical supply implications showed that the batteries for medical instruments froze and became useless when exposed to the extremely low temperatures.
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