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Mr Monkey sees Saving Lives at IWM North

Venue : Imperial War Museums North
Start date: 31st October 2012
End date : 1st September 2013
Visit date : 28th February, 2013
Mr Monkey looking out of the IWM North cafe window
Mr Monkey decided it was time his humans took him to Salford Quays to see Saving Lives : Frontline Medicine in a Century of Conflict at Imperial War Museum North. Because he made them walk along the River Irwell path from Manchester to the Quays, his humans claimed they needed sustenance before they could look at the exhibition, so Mr Monkey stared out of the cafe window while they had coffee.

When they'd finished, Mr Monkey scampered to the temporary exhibition hall and went into the exhibition via a symbolic recreation of a Chinook evacuation helicopter.
Mr Monkey outside the Saving Lives exhibition

Saving Lives : Frontline Medicine in a Century of Conflict details changes in the way the British armed forces have been able to deal with injured soldiers, sailors and airmen in conflicts from the First World War to the present day.

The exhibition is arranged by themes, rather than by simple chronology.

The first section deals with the experience of being injured, the second with immediate treatment and evacuation to a safe area, and the third theme is long term rehabilitation and recovery. For each theme there are displays about the major forms of injury - bullets and shrapnel, fire, chemical weapons and disease. The information within each theme is organised chronologically.

There are many displays of medical equipment, bits of metal extracted from wounds, military forms and reports diaries, letters, and a selection from the IWM's excellent collection of paintings. For Mr Monkey, though, the main body of the exhibition is in the numerous touch-screen displays which feature lots of pictures and videos, plus recordings and transcriptions giving personal accounts from injured servicemen. With a certain amount of care, it's possible to trace the full story of several individuals from injury to recuperation. Some of the images are disturbing, and some of the accounts harrowing, as they should be. It was interesting to see how many civilian medical professionals serve in front line situations.

Mr Monkey thought it was a little depressing to be told how many devices used in civilian medicine were developed as a result of people being shot in some foreign field, and until now hadn't appreciated how much work had to be done after a discovery - such as that of penicillin - to turn it into something that could be mass produced and applied where needed.

Mr Monkey found this a fascinating though occassionally gruesome exhibition highlighting a part of warfare which is often ignored.

Saving Lives runs at IWM North until September 1st 2013.

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