The present chapter is boiled down for the use of men of little or no surgical experience, who may suddenly find themselves wounded, or with an injured companion on their hands, when far away from any physician.
In operating upon a comrade, the main things are to keep cool, act promptly, and make him feel that you have no doubt that you can pull him through all right. Place him in a comfortable position, and expose the wound. If you cannot otherwise remove the clothing quickly and without hurting him, rip it up the seam. First stop the bleeding, if there is any; then cleanse the wound of dirt (but do not wash it) ; then close it, if a cut or torn wound; then apply a sterilized dressing; then bandage it in place. Of course, if the injury is serious, you will immediately send a messenger hot-foot for a surgeon, provided there is any chance of getting one.
As for the patient himself, let him never say die. Pluck has carried many a man triumphantly through what seemed the forlornest hope. Let me take space for an example or two.
Kit Carson once helped to amputate a comrade's limb when the only instruments available were a razor, a handsaw, and the kingbolt of a wagon. Not a man in the party knew how to take up an artery. Fine teeth were filed in the back of the saw, the iron was made white-hot, the arm was removed, the stump seared so as to close the blood vessels, and—the patient recovered.
Charles F. Lummis, having fractured his right arm so badly that the bone protruded, and being alone in the desert, gave his canteen strap two flat turns about the wrist, buckled it around a cedar tree, mounted a nearby rock, set his heels upon the edge, and threw himself backward. He fainted ; but the bone was set. Then, having rigged splints to the injured member with his left hand and teeth, he walked fifty-two miles without resting, before he could get food, and finished the 700-mile tramp to Los Angeles with the broken arm slung in a bandanna.
Richardson tells of a Montana trapper who, having his leg shattered in an Indian fight, and finding that gangrene was setting in, whetted one edge of his big hunting knife, filed the other into a saw, and with his own hands cut the flesh, sawed the bone, and seared the arteries with a hot iron. He survived.