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The 1950's
M.A.S.H., Part 2 - Nitty-Gritty Medicine



M.A.S.H., Part 2 - Nitty-Gritty Medicine
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.08

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    minefields, nitty-gritty, ometimes, pre-op, chopper, iffy, sanitation, fleets, policies, statistics, protocol, wartime, life-saving, mangled, frostbite, dealt
     content words:    Korean War, Ten M. A. S. H., In Korea, For M. A. S. H., Richard Hornberger


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M.A.S.H., Part 2 - Nitty-Gritty Medicine
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Wartime medicine has always had a rough, urgent intensity. It is medicine at its most nitty-gritty level. In 1950-53, most U.S. Army doctors were draftees plucked from their sterile, orderly practices on Mainstreet, U.S.A. Duty in the Korean War threw them into a life that seemed a planet or two away from anything they knew. They faced challenges far greater than those they were used to or trained for.
 
2     The first hurdle was just coping with living conditions. M.A.S.H. residents were subject to all the weather extremes of the Korean countryside. Winters in the mountain country chilled tent dwellers to the bone. All personnel had to guard against frostbite. In summer, there was no relief from heat and dust. Insects could drive a M.A.S.H. crew crazy.
 
3     As hard as it was to live in the hospital units, practicing medicine there was even worse. Primitive conditions made sanitation a constant worry. It took backbreaking work to make people and equipment sterile for surgery. Supplies, including drugs and blood for transfusions, came from long distances. If the battle took a turn for the worse, vital supplies might be delayed or never arrive at all.
 
4     The only source of power for lights and machinery was generators. In cold weather, they could be iffy to start. In warm weather, they could overheat. A stray shell could knock out a generator, leaving doctors in the dark in the middle of a delicate operation.

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