Derek Gregory – Precarious Journeys

On September 15, 2016 the Peter Wall Institute presented ‘War Stories’ from Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones told by foreign correspondents, combat veterans and scholars. World renowned geographer and Peter Wall Institute Distinguished Professor Derek Gregory delivered this talk on how casualty evacuation from war zones changed over the last hundred years.

In World War One, armies on the Western Front had to contend with mass casualty events measured in hundreds and thousands and yet many of the wounded lying out in No Man’s Land could not be located; the vast majority of casualties were soldiers not civilians; and evacuation to hospitals was by land and agonizingly slow (days and even weeks). This century in Afghanistan casualty events have been measured in single figures and the wounded were readily identified and geo-located; far more civilians were caught in the cross-fires; and evacuation was by air and treatment remarkably fast. But for all the differences the experience of wounding remains profoundly traumatic—especially because advances in military medicine and evacuation have ensured that many more casualties are surviving wounds that a hundred or even ten years earlier would have killed them.