Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Symposium on the Serbian military ambulance in the Great War

At the amphitheater of the Military Medical Academy, a symposium was held today about the Serbian military ambulance in the Great War, organized by the Military Healthcare Department of the Ministry of Defence and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the Serbian Medical Association (SLD).

The gathering was opened by Brigadier general Prof. Marijan Novakovic, MD, Head of the Military Medical Academy, and speech was also given by Prof. Pavle Milenkovic, MD, President of the SLD Academy of Medical Sciences.

General Novakovic said that, in the year when the world marks the centenary of the beginning of the Great War, the Serbian military ambulance celebrates two important jubilees – 175 years of work and 170 years since the foundation of the first military hospital, predecessor to the MMA.

Head of the MMA stressed that the members of the Serbian military ambulance during the Great War “were a reliable support to the Military, with their extreme efforts and sacrifices, in toughest conditions, with shortage in staff, medications and ambulance material, helping it to win some of the most important battles with as few victims as possible”. The key to this significant support, as he said, lied in the modern organization of the ambulance, in war surgery and war surgical doctrines, and the high ethics of the ambulance staff who never abandoned their wounded and ill, and who treated Serbian soldiers and captured enemies equally.

The introductory speech at the gathering was given by Chief Physician Aleksandar Medok, MD, science counselor, and papers were also presented by Milisav Sekulic, retired generals Veljko Todorovic and Branislav Popovic, colonels Prof. Dragan Mikic, MD and Mile Ignjatovic, MD, Lieutenant Colonel Radivoje Andjelkovic, Dragan Stupar and Luka Nikolic.

Doctor Nedok reminded that the Serbian military mobilized 409 doctors: 25 surgeons, 203 medical staff, 190 pharmacists and 60 veterinarians. The ratio was one doctor per 1,200 soldiers, which is unacceptably little and one surgeon per 300-800 wounded ones, depending on military operations.

According to his data, Serbia lost 1,247,435 men in the Great War, which was 28 percent of the population.128 doctors, veterinarians and pharmacists died while helping the people and the military, and the largest percent died of typhus.

During the meeting, the work of the Serbian military ambulance during the Great War was discussed. Presentations were given of the organization and work of the ambulance and veterinary service of the Serbian military, ambulance procurements and the role of pharmacists, surgical treatment, and epidemics of contagious diseases. Moreover, mention was given of ambulance losses in the Great War, of Bizerte and her role in treating, replenishing and filling out the Serbian military units, of the heroism of representatives of foreign ambulance missions within the Serbian military, and the role of the Red Cross in the Great war.