Helicopters for military medical evacuation appeared late in World War II and fully emerged in the Korean War and Vietnam. MedEvac Helicopters quickly added another important dimension to the rapid evacuation of casualties, first supplementing and then largely replacing the tactical truck ambulances that predominated on the battlefield in World War II.
Army UH-1 Iroquois MedEvac helicopter comes in to pick up a paratrooper injured in a mass air drop during Exercise Gallant Eagle '82, Fort Irwin, CA, 1 April 1982.
During World War II, there was an initial, rudimentary use of helicopters as "air ambulances" to supplement the use of trucks for frontline evacuation, but it was in the Korean War that the helicopter came of age in that role. Soon the helicopter became the primary means for evacuating the most seriously wounded, injured, and ill soldiers from the fighting front to the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH units) and rear area evacuation hospitals for life-saving treatment. Helicopter medical evacuation, universally called "MEDEVAC", soon became central to the Army Medical Department's concept of battlefield care and evacuation. During Vietnam, helicopter MEDEVAC became known as "Dustoff", a designation it has retained ever since. This section describes the development of helicopter evacuation and features many of the rotary wing craft employed for that purpose.
MedEvac UH-60 Blackhawk and M997 HMMWV ambulance at Barahona, Dominican Republic during humanitarian assistance project New Horizon 2006, 23 March 2006.
Medical evacuation, or MedEvac, refers to moving patients from the point of injury, usually from the battlefield, to a nearby medical facility. The history and development of this crucial capability is organized by time period in these sections:
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