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First Aid kit of emergency drugs, Paris, France, 1800-1945

First Aid kit of emergency drugs, Paris, France, 1800-1945

Credits: Science Museum

Each of the five coloured glass tubes corresponds to a different drug, making it easy to identify in an emergency. Some of the liquids are familiar to us, although their uses might not be. The blue glass contains caffeine, which was believed to help relieve pain. Among the more unusual liquids is the ‘ergotine’ in the brown glass tube. This was a medicine used to control heavy bleeding. Some drugs are used to stimulate the heart, including strychnine (in the white glass). The glass tube containing ether, a popular anaesthetic which numbed the patient and stopped them feeling any pain from their injuries is missing. All the liquids were to be given by injection. The kit is shown here with a similar example (A629763).

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Glossary: first aid kit

A kit designed to give help to an injured person until proper medical treatment is available

Glossary: first aid

Treatment that is rendered initially for the care of an emergent condition. It is usually performed by a lay person to a sick or injured patient until definitive medical treatment can be accessed