In Middle English (from Old French), a chirurgeon is a surgeon.
In the SCA, a Chirurgeon is a First-Aid officer.
The word Chirurgeon (ki-rûr'jən) comes from the old french word cirurgien, which is drawn from the Latin word chrurgia, or surgery. It is the word from which the modern english word Surgeon is drawn. Chirurgeons are the first-aid arm of the Society for Creative Anachronism. They are a group of volunteers who provide first-aid at SCA activities, such as tournaments, feasts, and camping events. Their membership includes real world first-aiders, nurses, physicians, and Emergency Medical Technicians of all levels. Together, They make up the Chirurgeonate, or The Chirurgeon's Guild.
In the early days of the Society, someone usually kept a first-aid kit around for the occasional injury. Over the years the Society has grown and the need for organized first aid has grown with it. There are several events each year which draw more than a thousand participants for up to two weeks at a time. The main thrust of Chirurgery has become organizational in an effort to coordinate the Chirurgeons at an event along with the supplies they will need and coordination with the other functionaries (marshals, autocrats, heralds, and water-bearers) they will be working with.
Although the Chirurgeonate is an SCA office, much of our organization and terminology is modeled after a guild. Many years ago, Chirurgeons used the same organizational framework as other offices, i.e., Chirurgeons were local, Principality, and Kingdom officers. Since Chirurgeons were the only officers, however, who were required to hold a non-SCA credential, such as first-aid certification or medical license, as a condition of holding the office, there was confusion at the local level about who would issue, deny, or revoke a Chirurgeon's warrant. There were also jurisdictional disputes regarding who would be the Chirurgeon-in-Charge at local events. The development of the guild structure was an attempt to address some of these difficulties.
You can recognize a Chirurgeon by the badge they wear when on duty. The badge of the Office of the Chirurgeon, registered in January of 1992, is blazoned: "Gules, on a goutte argent a fleam gules." In plain english, It is a red circle with a white teardrop containing a fleam (the "upside down 2"). The fleam was used in the middle ages to cut a patient and allow bad blood to escape.
As the Chirurgeonate operates as a guild, Chirurgeon's are designated by one of three ranks; Chirurgeon-in-Training, Chirurgeon, and Mentor Chirurgeon. There is also a fourth honorary rank of Chirurgeon Emeritus.
The various Ranks may be identified by the Border around the badge. A Chirurgeon in training wears the badge of the office with no border. A Warranted Chirurgeon wears the badge with a white border, and a Mentor Chirurgeon wears the badge with a gold border. A Chirurgeon Emeritus may wear a badge as registered with the Colledge of Heralds.
On July 11th, 2015, the SCA Board of Directors announced that the office of the Chirurgeonate will be closed on August 10th, 2015. The badge of the fleam will remain available for those individual volunteers (not affiliated with the SCA, Inc. and its Kingdoms and local groups) willing to provide basic first aid. Note that the An Tir Chirurgeons Guild will continue to exist, for example.
For More Information
More information about the An Tir Chirurgeon's Guild can be found at The An Tir Chirurgeon's Guild Website at http://antir.chirurgeonguild.org