M*A*S*H … the real thing in 1951.
I am sure that many of you will be familiar with the wonderful TV series M*A*S*H. The 256 episodes, originally screened between 1972 and 1983, followed the everyday lives of a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the “4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” in Uijeongbu, South Korea during the Korean War. The 4077th is fictitious but it is based on events which occured in real MASH units between 1950 and 1953.
The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) refers to a United States Army medical unit serving as a fully functional hospital in a combat area of operations. The units were first established in August 1945, and were deployed during the Korean War and later conflicts.
The “4077th MASH” unit depicted in the television series was smaller than real MASH units. The fictional 4077th consisted of four surgeons, around 10 nurses, and 50–70 enlisted men. In an average 24-hour period, they can go through 300 wounded soldiers. By comparison, the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital had personnel including 10 medical officers, 12 nursing officers, and 89 enlisted soldiers of assorted medical and nonmedical specialties. On one occasion, the unit handled over 600 casualties in a 24-hour period.
The following MASH units were active in Korea:
MASH Unit 8054th Evacuation Hospital
MASH Unit 8055th Staffed at onset of hostilities, June 1950.
MASH Unit 8063rd Staffed at onset of hostilities, June 1950.
MASH Unit 8076th Staffed at onset of hostilities, June 1950.
MASH Unit 8209th Originally 1st MASH, Arrived Korea September 1950.
MASH Unit 8225th Originally 2nd MASH. Deactivated end of May 1952.
MASH Unit 8228th Organized April 1952 to treat hemorrhagic fever patients.
During 1951, there were five U.S. MASHs and a Norwegian Mobile Surgical Hospital (60-bed capacity) in support of U.S. and U.N. troops in Korea. Standards for a MASH required that it could be disassembled, loaded onto vehicles, and ready to depart on six hours notice. After arrival at its new destination, it was operational within four hours. Each MASH operated five surgical tables in a shift with a highly organized system of managing shock patients. An ambulance platoon was attached to each MASH to facilitate the rapid evacuation when post-operative recovery was complete. Additionally, four helicopters were attached to each MASH. They, in turn, were utilized for resupply, rapid patient delivery to the MASH, and comfortable evacuation from the MASH.
Credits & Sources: