Thursday, 17 September 2015

Shhh..Nobody Will Notice

Anyone who has seen any American medical show has seen the symbol on the left on the sides of ambulances or in the hospitals and i have always wondered what a snake and a winged tent peg has got to do with the serious business of charging people lots of money to treat them.
Turns out the symbol is a bit of a historical balls-up and they decided to just go with it anyway.
In 1902, Capt. Frederick P. Reynolds of the US Army Medical Corps decided what the Medical Corps needed was an insignia and decided that the Rod of Asclepius with it's snake entwined around a staff fitted the bill nicely.
In Greek mythology Asclepius was a demigod of medicine and he was able to restore the health of the sick and bring the dead back to life.
Obviously ideal for a medical Corps so Capt. Frederick P Reynolds adopted the symbol and plastered it everywhere before someone pointed out that what he had actually had painted all over was the Caduceus of Hermes. 
Hermes who was the messenger of the gods, escort for the dead to the underworld and protector of merchants, commerce and thieves and his symbol was the two snakes and winged staff.
In a great piece of shrugging it off, they just went with it anyway so that's why the symbol which would be more at home on a funeral car than an ambulance has become the symbol of the US medical system.
On reflection, as the US medical system seems to be a case of we will only treat you if you can pay for it, maybe the God of commerce is more appropriate than it first seems.

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