“In a major disaster situation, the majority of all injuries
would be fractures.” As the narrator
makes this observation in the opening moments of the film, the camera pans
across the scene of an apparent “major disaster”. Scores of well-dressed men, women and
children lie among the ruins of collapsed buildings while rescue teams work to
extricate them. The key role of these
rescue teams, the narrator explains, is to stabilize and remove the injured
from immediate danger. When a casualty
is unconscious in rubble, a fracture should always be assumed. A simple fracture, where the shattered bone
has not penetrated the skin, may still be noted by lumps and swelling. A victim’s clothes should be cut, not pulled
off, as unnecessary movement may cause a simple fracture to break the skin or
sever nerves or arteries internally.
Once a simple fracture is identified, the broken limb should be set
between splints which may be made from scraps of torn cloth and scrap lumber. When the casualty has a compound fracture,
where the bone has broken through the skin, the rescue team should first stop
external bleeding before splinting the limb.
The ultimate goal, according to the film, is to move injured victims
into a sheltered area. At this point,
Fractures and Splinting cuts to an industrial basement which is the setting for
the majority of the films of the series.
Although not specifically identified as a public fallout shelter,
standard government shelter supplies including food, water barrels, and medical
kits (all adorned with a CD label) line the walls.
Within the basement setting, a woman tends to the injured. The same actress had earlier played the psychotic fallout shelter occupant Ms. Dennis in the 1963 Office of Civil Defense film Three Reactions to Shelter Life. Here, she demonstrates the importance of importance of disinfecting compound fractures with clean water. She also shows how to realign broken legs with improvised traction rigged from a cot and strips of torn cloth. Beyond arm and leg fractures, all bones are susceptible to breaking. Cutting back to the outside rubble, a woman lies unconscious on a pile of bricks. Bleeding from the mouth and ears, the narrator indicates this is evidence of a skull fracture. As she rouses to consciousness, rescuers check for signs of confusion as evidence of a concussion. Similarly, a young girl lies nearby unconscious under rubble. An aid worker binds her head to set a fractured jaw after checking to make certain the girl’s teeth are not cutting into her mouth. When the victim is elderly, hip and rib fractures must be considered before transport can take place. At all ages, a spinal fracture is most severe and the victim should be completely immobilized with sandbags and a rigid stretcher prior to moving. Final scenes depict the injured being well cared for inside of the fallout shelter. Likely due to the fact the film focused on general conventional first-aid measures, Fractures and Splinting was not deemed obsolete like many of its contemporary civil defense films. Conversely, it was available for rent or purchase throughout the 1970’s and was even converted to VHS cassette tape and was possible to obtain from government catalogs into the early 1980’s.(3)
1. Office of Civil Defense. 1962 Annual Report. United States Government Printing Office. 1963. 62.
2. Office of Civil Defense. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Family Guide to Emergency Healthcare. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1963.
3. General Services Administration. A List of Audiovisual Produced by the U.S. Government For Emergency Medical Services. National Archives and Record Services. 1982.