Building on the past, preparing for the future
As noted previously, the MHSSPACS is just the most
recent addition to a long list of examples of cooperation between the ACS and the U.S. military. President Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed ACS Founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, to the Advisory
Commission of the Council of National Defense to
prepare for the U.S. involvement in World War I
and called upon the College to assist in organizing a field hospital for the American Expeditionary
Force. The College’s involvement in the Great War
led to significant advances in patient care. A shortage of splinting materials led to use of the plaster
orthopaedic cast for treating fractures, and lessons
learned during the war led to the successful management of open chest wounds and empyema.
In 1918, Sir Berkeley Moynihan, KCMG, CB, of
the Royal College of Surgeons led a delegation to
America to present the Great Mace to the ACS “in
memory of mutual work and good fellowship in the
Great War 1914–1918.” The Great Mace continues
to be presented each year at the Convocation and is
prominently displayed at the College’s headquarters
to serve as a lasting reminder of this legacy.
The College’s involvement in World War II dates
back to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When traveling to examine and treat patients injured during
the attack, Isidor S. Ravdin, MD, FACS, took with
him a supply of albumin that he used to successfully
treat seven severely burned patients. In 1942 through
1944, the College replaced its sectional meetings
with War Sessions throughout the U.S. and Canada
to train the many physicians and surgeons entering
the Army in the care of combat injuries. Further-
more, as Theater Commander for Surgery in the
Mediterranean in World War II, Colonel Edward D.
Churchill, MD, FACS, developed the use of delayed
primary closure and early debridement of contami-
nated wounds and improved the air evacuation pro-
cess for wounded soldiers.
In addition, Past-Director of the ACS, Paul Haw-
ley, MD, FACS(Hon), has been credited with drawing
the blueprint for the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs’ health care system. More recently, Landstuhl
Regional Medical Center, a military hospital operated
in Germany by the U.S. Army and the DoD, became
the only medical center outside of the U.S. to achieve
Level II Trauma Center verification status from the
College. In 2011, it was verified as a Level I center.
All of the individual surgeons involved in launch-
ing this initiative anticipate that the MHSSPACS will
result in even greater advances for all trauma and
surgical patients. If you would like to get involved in
this program, please let me know. Together, we can
do much to improve the quality of care and quality
of life for all Americans. ♦
If you have comments or suggestions about this or other issues, please
send them to Dr. Hoyt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presentation of the Great Mace to the ACS by surgeons of Great Britain, 1920. From left: Sir William Taylor, KBE;
George E. Armstrong, MD, FACS; Sir Moynihan; Albert Carless, CBE; and Francis A.C. Scrimger, VC.