Johannes Friedrich August von Esmarch (9 January 1823 – 23 February 1908) was a German surgeon. He developed the Esmarch bandage and founded the Deutscher Samariter-Verein, the predecessor of the Deutscher Samariter-Bund .
Esmarch was born in Tönning, Schleswig-Holstein. He studied at Kiel and Göttingen, and in 1846 became Bernhard Rudolf Konrad von Langenbeck's assistant at the Kiel surgical hospital. He served in the Schleswig-Holstein War of 1848 as junior surgeon, and this directed his attention to the subject of military surgery. He was taken prisoner, but afterwards exchanged, and was then appointed as surgeon to a field hospital. During the truce of 1849 he qualified as Privatdocent at Kiel, but on the fresh outbreak of war he returned to the troops and was promoted to the rank of senior surgeon.
In 1854 Esmarch became director of the surgical clinic at Kiel, and in 1857 head of the general hospital and professor at the University of Kiel. During the Schleswig-Holstein War of 1864, Esmarch rendered good service to the field hospitals of Flensburg, Sundewitt and Kiel. In 1866 he was called to Berlin as member of the hospital commission, and also to take the superintendence of the surgical work in the hospitals there. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he was appointed surgeon-general to the army, and afterwards consulting surgeon at the great military hospital near Berlin.
In 1872 Esmarch married Princess Caroline Christiane Auguste Emilie Henriette Elisabeth of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1833–1917), aunt of Empress Augusta Viktoria. In 1887 a patent of nobility was conferred on Esmarch. He died at Kiel.
Esmarch was one of the greatest authorities on hospital management and military surgery. His Handbuch der kriegschirurgischen Technik was written for a prize offered by the empress Augusta, on the occasion of the Vienna Exhibition of 1877, for the best handbook for the battlefield of surgical appliances and operations. This book is illustrated by admirable diagrams, showing the different methods of bandaging and dressing, as well as the surgical operations as they occur on the battlefield. Esmarch himself invented an apparatus, which bears his name, for keeping a limb nearly bloodless during amputation.
No part of Esmarch's work is more widely known than that which deals with First Aid, his First Aid on the Battlefield and First Aid to the Injured being popular manuals on the subject. The latter is the substance of a course of lectures delivered by him in 1881 to a Samaritan School, the first of the kind in Germany, founded by Esmarch in 1881, in imitation of the St John Ambulance classes which had been organized in England in 1878. These lectures were very generally adopted as a manual for first aid students, edition after edition having been called for, and they have been translated into numerous languages, the English version being the work of HRH Princess Christian.
No ambulance course would be complete without a demonstration of the Esmarch bandage. It is a three-sided piece of linen or cotton, of which the base measures 4 feet and the sides 2 feet 10 inches. It can be used folded or open, and applied in thirty-two different ways. It answers every purpose for temporary dressing and field-work, while its great recommendation is that the means for making it are always at hand.
In 1857 Esmarch wrote an article together with the psychiatrist Peter Willers Jessen. They had discovered the connection between syphilis and general paralysis of the insane.
First aid is the first and immediate assistance given to any person suffering from either a minor or serious illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or to promote recovery. It includes initial intervention in a serious condition prior to professional medical help being available, such as performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while waiting for an ambulance, as well as the complete treatment of minor conditions, such as applying a plaster to a cut. First aid is generally performed by someone with basic medical training. Mental health first aid is an extension of the concept of first aid to cover mental health, while psychological first aid is used as early treatment of people who are at risk for developing PTSD. Conflict First Aid, focused on preservation and recovery of an individual's social or relationship well-being, is being piloted in Canada.
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Battlefield medicine, also called field surgery and later combat casualty care, is the treatment of wounded combatants and non-combatants in or near an area of combat. Civilian medicine has been greatly advanced by procedures that were first developed to treat the wounds inflicted during combat. With the advent of advanced procedures and medical technology, even polytrauma can be survivable in modern wars. Battlefield medicine is a category of military medicine.
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Esmarch bandage in its modern form is a narrow soft rubber bandage that is used to expel venous blood from a limb (exsanguinate) that has had its arterial supply cut off by a tourniquet. The limb is often elevated as the elastic pressure is applied.The exsanguination is necessary to enable some types of delicate reconstructive surgery where bleeding would obscure the working area. A bloodless area is also required to introduce local anaesthetic agents for a regional nerve block. This method was first described by Augustus Bier in 1908.(
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