Echelon I Medical Treatment WW II
An American soldier, hit by German fire, has just died of wounds, despite the best efforts of the medics to save him. Schevenhutte, Germany, 22 December 1944.
Description of Echelon I Medical Treatment in WW II
The health-services support system in 1945 was divided into five levels of care, called echelons. The first echelon of care was unit-level health-services support.
Echelon I began at the site where a soldier was wounded or injured, with self/buddy care and first aid given by company aidmen, usually within the first half-hour. Each soldier carried a packet of field dressings and sulfa tablets and powder for immediate antibiotic and sanitary care. Aidmen were trained to administer treatment for minor injuries and to stabilize serious casualties so they could be trainported to an aid station.
Sick, injured, or wounded soldiers were treated at the battalion or regimental aid station, located 300-500 yards behind the front lines when the tactical situation permitted. In the infantry regiment, this echelon of care was provided by a regimental medical detachment of ten officers and 126 enlisted men. The section was divided into a headquarters section, which operated the regimental aid station, and three battalion sections, each of which provided a battalion aid station, litter bearers, and company aidmen to one of the battalions organic to the regiment.
The regimental aid station was organized in much the same manner as the battalion aid stations, with the addition of two Dental Corps officers. Because its capabilities and level of care were the same as that found in the battalion aid station, patients would not normally be evacuated from the battalion aid station to the regimental aid station. Rather, patients would be evacuated from the battalion aid station to the division collecting company, while the regimental aid station would provide care for personnel in the regimental rear area.
In the other branches of the combat arms, these functions were performed by battalion medical detachments. Many of the units in the combat support branches also had organic medical detachments.
As World War II went on, it was found that the dental officers in the infantry regiments were underutilized and in many cases, they were removed from the regiments and used to form roving dental teams that provided dental care for a geographic area, rather than for specific units.
Material on this page adapted from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (Ft. Leavenworth, KS) publication, "From the Roer to the Elbe with the 1st Medical Group: Medical Support of the Deliberate River Crossing", by Donald E. Hall.
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