"What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?" Siddhartha Guatama Buddha (thanks to Patti Digh for the quote).
See also the related post, "Ueber-spectacular Understatement".
In a world where mass extinction of human beings by nuclear weapons was hypothesized, theorized, and nearly implemented, there was certainly a lot of room for discussion about what would come after the Big Event. Great and massive and insignificant and small were all on the board for conversation and study; in a new world of hyper-change, anything and everything could be an issue--well, everything and nothing, nothing and everything, because in an exchange of a million megaton, everything starts to look like nothing. But be that as it may, planners needed to plan for eventual changes in what we humans would call "daily life". Sometimes that everything was big, sometimes not, and sometimes the big stuff just looked little.
For example, the pamphlet Mass Casualties, Principles Involved in Management, published as an offprint from the journal Military Medicine (April, 1956), is filled with numbing categories of thought, and doubly-numbing sub-categories, all of which needed a thinking-out, because when you have to make plans for the destruction of all things, there must be some sort of planning for what happens when the fires go out.
There were the cautious introductory overviews, chapters on casualty estimates, initial aid and rescue, effects of fallout, emergency medical care, and the like. The work starts to get a little less oblique when the chapters become a little more detailed, like that one devoted to "Mass Thermal Burns". But what happens in these more-detailed headings is that the treatment of its subject gets less-detailed. ("...the thousandfold increase in power and relative increase in radiant energy considerably enhance the burn hazard with the fusion bomb" "...although the ideal treatment must be somewhat compromised in handling massive numbers of burn patients..." (page 319)).
Ditto the chapter for "Management of Mass Psychiatric Casualties". And "Public Health and Sanitation Problems of Nuclear Warfare". These topics sound a little not-quite-right, and almost like a bad joke, but they are deadly serious.
"Organization for the Sorting of Casualties" is another. Now even in this pamphlet the authors/editors were talking about massive exchange, which means that the "sorting" process would be involving tens of millions of people. And who knows who would be the sorting stuff in such a situation, or if there would be a sorting place or doctors, or hospitals. Nevertheless, this chapter underwhelms the overwhelming, which is a common occurrence in works like this.
- "A wide disparity will in all probability exist between the patient and the medical resource".
- "All available medical forces will be used to the maximum for the care of the wounded".
And so on.
It wasn't just the care of human survivors that came under auspices of this work--there was also the matter of the social structure, which is what happens in "Welfare Problems in Nuclear Warfare". In four short pages the chapter addresses the need to deal with the care of the survivability of the social network. And money.
- "Ordinary jobs as people knew them would be nonexistent. Income from private investments, private insurance, social insurance, public assistance, government employment or any other source will be disrupted. A whole income maintenance system will need to be developed and be ready so that income will either be in cash or in kind and be available when it is needed." (Page 389)
- "Any attack will bring in its wake a multitude of personal rehabilitation problems".
The author does get to the crux of the biscuit, finally, saying that after everything was said and done, that "much either medical or social care would have to be self-care in so far as humanly possible..." (Page 388).
So what can one say to as a drowning person to another drowning person in a flood? Best to look for higher ground? There's really not much that can be said, and I am sure that at the end of the day that these well-meaning contributors knew that there would not be much working following the nuclear dumpster fire--but I guess you have to plan for it anyway, just in case.