ENT Field Kit
This month’s featured artefact is an ENT Field Kit, 1914.History: Otorhinolaryngology medicine—a surgical subspecialty of the ears, nose, and throat (ENT)—was a battlefield necessity in the early 20th Century. The conditions of the trenches and general warfare of WWI facilitated the need for medics to carry field kits to treat injuries and infections any time, any place. The trenches of the Western Front were little more than swampy holes—a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Medics could do very little to save soldiers with influenza and intestinal flu, and diseases as such killed more men than machine-gun fire. WWI was also the first conflict in history to see the use of chemical weapons, which especially burned and irritated the skin, nose, throat, and lungs. It could cause death within minutes if not treated, killing by asphyxiation. Thus, the Canadian Medical Corps played a vital role in keeping soldiers alive. For the duration of The Great War (1914–1918) more than half of all Canadian physicians served overseas in the CAMC—over 21, 000 men and women—and three of its members were awarded the Victoria Cross. The horrors of the battlefield required medics to drastically adapt their practices in order to save lives, and relied on—by today’s standards, rather crude—instruments like those in the ENT kit to save soldiers’ lives.