Granted that the patient in such a hospital receives the most perfect service which knowledge can plan and efficiency carry out, he may still owe much of his restoration to health to the encouragement brought by letters, gifts, or visits from relations and friends. Peculiarly is this the case, if the patient finds himself in a hospital in a strange city and is tempted to believe himself not only out of sight but also out of mind. In military hospitals also, the patients feel the need of some pledge that they are not forgotten by those for whom they are suffering.
Moreover there occur crises, such as those occasioned by sudden disaster like flood or fire or earthquake, when the perfectly-equipped civil hospital may be glad to ask for volunteer assistance to meet its emergency calls. In military hospitals also arise emergencies when the ready help of a volunteer service may "save the situation," as happened more than once in the experience of the Canadian Army Medical Corps in France.
The final evolution of Dunant's vision is a combination of both ideals. In the first place, a medical service, now fully recognized as one of the most important departments of the army, and financed out of the revenue of the country; and, in the second place, a recognized voluntary service, supplementing the work of the army to some extent but rendering also the class of service which a patient in a civil hospital might expect to receive from his family and friends.
By the Hague Convention of 1899, the Red Cross agreement was extended to include sailors and prisoners of war. During the present war, by special arrangement between the belligerents, it has included also the care of interned civilians and the crews of torpedoed ships.
Both branches of Red Cross work—official and voluntary—are permitted to use the Red Cross, although it is often supposed that "Red Cross" work is essentially voluntary, and the Red Cross Societies thus receive