Secretary of Defense directed that all evacuation of sick and wounded, both in peace
and in war, should be accomplished by air whenever aircraft are available and proper
medical treatment can be provided the patient en route. Exceptions to this policy
included the use of hospital ships and ambulance trains.
b. Although thousands of patients were moved by air during and subsequent to
World War II, it was not until the Korean War that mass air evacuation of patients on an
organized basis was put to the extreme test and proved to be the most expeditious, as
well as the most economical and practical, means of transporting patients of the Armed
Forces. Over 300,000 patients were evacuated from Korea to Japan during the Korean
War and were processed for final air movement to hospitals in the CONUS. The true
value of air evacuation, however, is not in the movement of patients between MTFs, but
in the time saved in moving the patient from the point of initial injury to the point at which
a physician first sees him. The success of aeromedical evacuation during Korea is best
exemplified in the words of two of the most eminent physicians of that period. Dr.
Henderson, then president of the American Medical Association, said: "Speedy air
evacuation was one of the three major reasons for the low mortality rates experienced
in the Korean conflict, the other two being the use of antibiotics and whole blood."
Major General Bliss, Army Surgeon General during this period, said: "Rapid and
efficient air evacuation was a major factor contributing to the excellent condition of our
Korean wounded upon their arrival in this country as compared to those patients
evacuated during World War II."
c. Air evacuation of patients was the rule in Vietnam. To indicate the magnitude
of the operation, over 71,000 patients were moved by air during the period 1 February
to 31 May 1968. From the beginning of aeromedical evacuation in Vietnam in 1962
through mid-year 1968, more than 450,000 patients were evacuated by air.
EVACUATION WHEN AERIAL MEANS NOT FEASIBLE
a. There are times when aircraft are not available for patient evacuation or the
weather will not permit the use of aircraft. Also, in some instances, ground evacuation
is better adapted for the situation. The Army has ground ambulances for patient
evacuation and some Army vehicles can be adapted for temporary use as patient
b. Motor ambulances are vehicles specially designed for carrying patients. They
are organic to the AMEDD units that are assigned the task of transporting the sick and
wounded by ground ambulance. Motor ambulances are equipped with supplies,
including litters, blankets, and splints, and are staffed with ambulance personnel
qualified in basic emergency medical care and treatment procedures. An ambulance
crew consists of a driver and an orderly.
c. Some of the motor ambulances and other vehicles used for patient