View Full Version : Cold War gunshot treatment

10-13-2012, 03:34 AM
I have a character who survives a gunshot to the head in East Berlin c. 1960. The premise is that he loses consciousness at the scene and he wakes up in a hospital, bandaged in something that smells like whatever topical medication they would have used (assuming it's a medication that smells).

If he were treated by the authorities while the wound was fresh, would they have poured sulfa powder on the wound before closing it up? Or would they use something else?

If Sulfa, does it smell? Like what?

If Sulfa wouldn't have been the drug of choice, what would it have been and what would it smell like?



10-13-2012, 03:49 AM
We had penicillin, sulfonamides, streptomycin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline by the early 1950s.

Don't know how they smell.

He might smell iodine. Bandages were sometimes treated with that.

10-13-2012, 04:20 AM
"We had penicillin, streptomycin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline"

Were any of these topical?

10-13-2012, 04:35 AM
Sulfa is an antibiotic given in pill form. I've had it and am pretty sure it had no smell. But is your character in E. Berlin? I was in the USSR with my dad who was on a trip with an American medical organization. We got to see the inside of hospitals and my dad said that their technology had made it up to the 1950s (it was the early 1970s.) Berlin was still recovering from WW II so I suspect that their hospitals were primitive compared to the West. Topical? I don't know by I'll bet the hospitals smelled of rubbing alcohol and bleach.

There may have been some use of colloidal silver and lidocaine as well. But, your character can simply smell hospital smell and not something that's been rubbed on him.

10-13-2012, 01:15 PM
They probably used the East German equivalent of Bactine. I am pretty sure I remember smelling it once or twice in my life and it's an iodine-medical smell. http://www.vintage-adventures.com/en/healthcare-medical-dental/1028-1954-bactine-ad-tan-you-want.html Here's a neat poster from 1954 for the stuff.

The bandages on his head would have some antiseptic on it, the hair would have been shaved away from the wound and the whole area would have been slathered in antiseptic prior to any surgery or wound treatment. There would likely be some staining from the iodine-based stuff that was used a lot back then. The dressing then would get inspected every day or so to make sure the wound healed without infection.

10-14-2012, 04:19 AM
Thanks to all for your help!