Famous Nurses Who Made History
World War I Combat Nursing (1885 to 1918) The battlefield that has become many brave soldiers grave also led Helen Fairchild to her final destination. But compared to those soldiers who were there to fight and kill, she was in the battlefield with the primary mission of saving lives. Fairchild was one of the 64 nurses who left Pennsylvania Hospital with the American Expeditionary Force to France, in 1917.
Fairchild was immediately sent to the Casualty Clearing Station 4 at the third Battle of Ypress Passchendaele. As a front line combat nurse, young Helen was exposed to mustard gas, which was used against the Allied Forced during a heavy shelling. Mustard gas has the ability to mimic the effects of chloroform on the stomach. This worsened the abdominal pain that she already had even before leaving the U.S. After every meal, Helen vomited. She was later on diagnosed with large gastric ulcer that obstructed her pylorus. Doctors recommended gastro enterostomy operation on the 13th of January 1918. Fairchilds operation seemed successful, but became jaundiced on the 3rd day. Her condition rapidly deteriorated, she fell into coma, and died on January 18, 1918.
Nurse Helen Fairchilds short lived combat nursing carrier endured through history, serving as inspiration to nurses in the military.