In what may probably be the biggest scoop for us on jetguns, we owe member Sylvia Price a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. She spent thousands of dollars of her own money over the last decade in a desperate search for the Holy Grail of Jetgun Knowledge- What did they know and when did they know it?
Why- or better yet how- did such a filthy, unsanitary, non sterilizable inoculation device survive so many decades of military use in the face of this inexorable truth? Quite simply, it was speed, efficiency and a No deposit, No return mentality on the usage of human beings as an unending supply of disposable employees. That certainly should not come as a surprise to any of you Vets-especially combat ones. Freshly drafted 11 Bravo grunts for the new war in Vietnam were going to be cannon fodder all too soon. What difference did it make if they contracted a lethal, incurable disease or two in the process beforehand? Besides, if they survived and needed medical attention after service, there was always the VA as a last resort.
Sylvia Price, R.N is a fellow member of the Old Guard of HCVets. Once upon a time we lived on a small chat board called Delphi. The site still exists but is growing cobwebs. Harry Hooks, Patricia Lupole and a few others have been holding down the fort and providing support at HCVets.com as well as on various Facebook sites. I was the newbie in 2008. Her dogged pursuit of the magic nexus to the sure knowledge something was amiss is legendary. It should come as no surprise that she has finally unearthed the Rosetta stone.
THE HISTORY OF THE JETGUN
The CDC finally threw in the towel in 1997 and said the jetguns were unsanitary. The US Government, by and large, had ceased by 1998 and reverted (at great cost) to one-shot disposable syringes and begrudgingly accepted rational thinking on sanitary protocol. But let’s go back to the fifties and the Elvis era when this all began. Medical personnel could be excused for being ignorant on this when jetguns first made their appearance, right? Wrong by a country mile.
Here’s some of the now-released literature that shows the lack of training on this device. I doubt anyone ever saw a pecker checker grab the backside of their arm, pull the flesh back tight and administer the jetgun blast at a perfect 90° angle after carefully seating it against the flesh. All the ones I had were “hit on the move” or a half-hearted attempt to at least nudge the nozzle tip against the skin. Obviously, had the “technicians” used their off hand to hold the arm securely while tightening the flesh, the incidence of flinching would have been controlled for the most part and bloodshed would have been extremely rare.
Think back on your jetgun experience, ladies and gentlemen. Do you recall hearing “1001, 1001, 1003”? Do you recall the technician gently swabbing the site with a clean cotton or gauze material to remove any excess vaccine? I recall “Keep moving! Stand perfectly still when shot. Do not flinch or jerk. Next?” There were forty four men in my Flight. It took less than five minutes for us to get our first round of immunizations on about Day six. The second round went even faster because we were smarter.
Chapter 6 page 6-20 begins the discussion on jetguns. You will find the Army Manual has a completely different idea on how all this was done. References to “sterile procedures” pepper the chapter. Everything written would indicate your experience was sanitary, sterile and risk-free if the procedures were followed.
HOW TO USE THE KNOWLEDGE IN A JETGUN CLAIM
The reason you can contradict what actually happened via your lay testimony is you can describe this in non-medical jargon. You do not have to say it was unsanitary. You merely have to recite what actually happened-the “wham-bam! thank you ma’m!” nature of it with the occasional twit who jerked and got blood everywhere. You can recite that, contrary to the accepted procedure in the book (below), your arm was not wiped following administration of the vaccine. The presumption of regularity that The Army was proficient in what they were doing is now rebutted. Sanitariness was no longer guaranteed because the operating protocols were not followed. You do not need to be a doctor to state this. Layno versus Brown (1994) tells us we can report what comes to us via our five senses. If we did not visually observe Bozo wipe our arm after the shot, what else did he forget to do? How about holding your arm with his non-jetgun hand?
The manual is not just a font of info for rebutting jetgun sanitariness. The manual also demonstrates many non-sterile techniques of the era and shows other potential paths to infection.
Here’s the manual. I want each of you to think how many died without getting service connected because the VA and the military went out of their way to prevent it’s disclosure for a long, long time. It holds the recipe for success. It’s in .pdf and easy to download to your computer. Whisper “Thank you, Sylvia” when you do. It is she that made this possible. I almost can foresee HCV becoming a presumptive if enough of you get this into your c-files and before the BVA and the CAVC.