Canada and the First World War


The wounded passed through a series of medical units in their treatment process.

Sorting through the Wounded

Front line medical officers treated many casualties but, often overwhelmed by sheer numbers, they quickly transported many of the wounded to field ambulances, located as close as safety allowed to the front lines. The ambulances took the wounded to dressing stations and, later, to casualty clearing stations. Surgery could be performed at any of the medical units, depending on the patient’s need for immediate or deferred care.

Often the doctors and medical orderlies were forced to practice a system of triage, a selection process to determine which patients would be operated on immediately, which could wait a few hours, and which were untreatable and, therefore, would be left to die. It was a harsh but necessary system, especially when medical units were overrun with hundreds of wounded, many in the final stages of life unless care could be given immediately.

On to France and England

Following an initial recovery from surgery, patients could proceed to stationary and general hospitals in France and England for long-term care. By 1918, the Canadian Army Medical Corps operated 16 general hospitals, ten stationary hospitals, and four casualty clearing stations.

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