The anaesthetist’s reports were incorporated into the larger reports that were generated by the surgeon.
The list of operations in the Operating Theatre Book is at variance with the Nosworthy Cards. This is partly accounted for by “mumps”. There was a pre-occupation that the extent of the affliction which had temporarily laid the surgeon low would similarly affect the anaesthetist and that a replacement would have to be flown out.
It soon became apparent that the disease was confined to the parotid glands and did not travel “south” but nevertheless a replacement – Sqdn Ldr Papworth – was flown out and he administered five anaesthetics. (Anaesthetists were in short supply in the army not only because of numbers but also because they often had good(?) reasons for not deploying to 55FST because of insuperable personal problems. The webmaster was the third choice for this deployment and notwithstanding their past circumstances would wish to express his gratitude to the other two who found reasons to stay at home and missed out on the deployment of a lifetime !)
The jobbing anaesthetist in the local general hospital now, as a matter of course, has access to and uses an array of sophisticated equipment and anaesthetic medications. I suspect that the more equipment that anaesthetists have around them the happier and more fulfilled they feel.
I recall, whilst in training, the patient’s pulsemeter hitting zero at the same time that the surgeon – Lt Col Ian Lister – leaned over the drapes, addressed the patient and said “I’m trying not to hurt you”. My panic was relieved by Don Hutton, my tutor, quietly observing that the battery in the pulsemeter had probably given up and that I should ignore the surgeon.
Not surprisingly I have a sceptical mistrust of any sort of electro-mechanical medical apparatus and prefer to keep things a simple as possible. If the kit goes wrong or is not present you have to rely on your basic skills and techniques. It goes without saying that you have to be practised in those skills to have the confidence to rely upon them. However reliance on the supply chain for everything from bottled gas from the UK to local electricity to run a ventilator is not needed if skills are maximised, equipment is minimised and the KISS route is embraced. Bitter experience in 55FST hammered this home.
The equipment inventory for 55FST was just about as basic as it could get.
I have looked critically at the list of patients anaesthetised in the four months in Dhofar and tried to decide whether the outcome would have been more favourable if I had access to more sophisticated and complex anaesthetic apparatus. Even allowing for my hopelessly biased attitude I think that it is unlikely.
How busy was the FST ? Examination of the records shows that there were periods of little activity and periods of intense activity. It averaged out to just above two general anaesthetics per day ! An element of guilt crept in when one considered how busy they would have been back in BMH Rinteln with their workload and one of their three anaesthetists away “on holiday” The two peaks in the records relate to the RCL attack on the officers’ mess, Mirbat and then the DPS after each incident.
If any one has any other draft copies they would wish to add to the website I would be only too happy to include them.