1. LeChatLAgriculteur
    Offline

    LeChatLAgriculteur New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1

    Getting shot by a ballista and live.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by LeChatLAgriculteur, Oct 16, 2013.

    Hey,

    I got a question here for one of my writing projects.
    Is it possible for a young (but tough) woman to survive getting shot with a ballista?
    Preferably somewhere in the torso. Or will she just been blast to bits by the size of the arrows?

    Le Chat
     
  2. Luke Andrew
    Offline

    Luke Andrew Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2013
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Aarquelle
    Well, to be frankly honest most puncture wounds to the chest or abdomen would be fatal if we did not have the medical technology we have today. The size of the projectile and the speed that it is fired at would probably instantly kill a human being. If she didn't die immediately she would instantly go into shock and most likely pass out and be unable to help herself. If someone does manage by some miracle to keep her from bleeding out and stabilizes her then she will die of infection shortly after. If the ballista's bolt glanced her then she would have a much better chance of survival, but infection is still going to be likely unless the wound is cleaned well or is really shallow. Magic would be the only real way to save her unless the world that you have built has another answer. You are the writer and when you create the world you could probably come up with a way for someone to save her, magical or not.

    I say go for it and see what solutions you can come up with to keep your character alive.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  3. LeChatLAgriculteur
    Offline

    LeChatLAgriculteur New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thank you! I find your answer very helpfull.
     
  4. T.Trian
    Offline

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    1,449
    Location:
    Mushroom Land
    The part about infection is especially true since in medieval times people didn't understand infections and hence didn't know that you're supposed to clean wounds a bit more thoroughly than they did (brush off the dirt, slap on a towel, good to go).

    Does the ballista fire bolts or stone shot? How far is she from the ballista when she's hit? 10 yards? 500 yards? The further away she is, the better her chances are since the projectile loses power the further it has to fly before impact. Also, is it closer to the Greek or Roman ballista?
     
    thewordsmith likes this.
  5. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I understand that in medieval times warriors wore suitably padded garments because they tended to plug arrow wounds. That means somebody could survive a lot of arrow wounds provided they don't puncture vital organs. A direct hit to the torso would still be bad news, then, or to the head, but anywhere else and there would be no immediate shock to somebody wearing such garments, and the risk of infection would be reduced, but she'd need a lot of medical attention afterwards.
     
  6. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Look what happens when firing a ballista at a steel door and decide if it would do much damage to a bag of blood and guts
     
    Jack Asher likes this.
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Are you talking about with or without treatment? Assuming without:

    Assuming the OP is talking about penetrating wounds and not blunt trauma of a stone launcher, it matters how many arrows and how large a penetrating projectile we are talking about.

    A penetrating shot to the torso has the potential to miss vital organs. As long as you don't spill the intestinal contents (causing massive infection), or hit the spleen, liver, or a major blood vessel or the heart (exsanguination), one could survive. Even a lung puncture is survivable if it only affects one lung and if the projectile is not too large. If it has a chance to heal, a previously healthy person has the reserve to live off one lung and in rare cases if infection does not overwhelm the person, a pneumothorax can heal and the affected lung will re-inflate.

    There are records from war wounds in the civil war that would be useful to review.quote]Because, the lack of knowledge of bacteria and the difficulties of chest and abdominal surgeries in the Civil War era made the mortality very high for soldiers receiving wounds in those areas. For example - a soldier hit in the abdomen, where the ball struck the small intestine, and causing leaking of fecal material into the abdomen - had a 87% to 100% chance of his wound being a mortal one. Some surgeons advised that "When balls are lost in the capacity of the belly one need not amuse himself by hunting for them." Still, there were surgeons who questioned this stance. Eventually the majority of doctors would try some type of repair, if for no other reason than to give the patient one last chance. Some treatments did succeed, and others were miserable failures. The trial of "hermetically sealing" certain chest wounds ended when the mortality was determined to be 100%. Sometime, the surgeons realized, it was best to "let nature run its course."[/quote]

    Again let me emphasize surviving infection is rare, but can occur unless you spill intestinal contents into the abdomen.
     
  8. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    Anything is possible. Even if something is highly unlikely, it can still happen. With surviving massive penetrating wounds, it's essential that none of the vital structures ( large blood vessels, heart, lungs, liver, gut) aren't damaged beyond repair, because that will lead to either massive bleeding, respiratory failure or sepsis. Also, it's important to be able to clean the wound of any debris, and keep it clean, and if there are larger projectiles that can't be removed (typical for bullet wounds in the battlefield) that they are not obstructing normal function and that they are not going to start moving.

    My granddad survived massive grenade wound in the war, huge chunks of his chest and back got blown off, and all they had was alcohol for anaesthesia and surgeons who operated on him. Even in Ancient Egypt doctors performed quite advanced surgery, so amputating a limb or removing organs (such as spleen) or foreign bodies and suturing should not be a problem in a medieval fantasy story.

    Painkillers and herbs and potions used to control infection can be just various 'tonics'. The only thing they wouldn't have had is blood transfusions, although it's easy enough to set one up, maybe boil sheep's small intestine and use a hollow needle either end (I'm just talking of the top of my head but a hollow tube and intravenous access is all you need, and obviously huge luck that bloods are compatible). You can either show it as desperate attempt at something completely new, or maybe the healer has done it before, but if you don't want to go down that route, make sure the bleeding can be survived without a blood transfusion. Volume can be replaced by drinking lots of sugared water with some salt and other beverages that are close to being isotonic.

    If all the vital structures are intact, the bleeding is stopped and there is access to some kind of life-saving treatment, you can certainly make it plausible in your book, why not?
     
  9. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    As somebody else has pointed out, range would have a substantial effect on survivability. And my point was about death due to shock: even if the padding does prevent major blood loss, a penetrating injury can still do muscle and bone damage (I'd assumed it missed vital organs). Like I said, she'd need serious attention afterwards.
     

Share This Page