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The Air Ambulance: A History

The air ambulance has been around almost as long as there has been human flight. Like most medical services the origination and development of the air ambulance began in the military. Since its early concepts, shortly after the Wright Brother’s first flight, in World War I the air ambulance has seen tremendous growth and expansion into the civilian world. Today it is one of the most useful ways to assist people in need in rural areas and has contributed its part in improving the lifespan of mankind.

Most historians believe the first true medical transport mission took place during World War I when a Serbian officer was flown in a French Air Service plane from the battlefield to the hospital. French records during World War I reported that the air ambulance cut the mortality rate of injured soldiers from 60% to 10%. The first official recorded air ambulance mission was in 1917 in Turkey when a British ambulance transported a soldier who had been shot to a hospital in 45 minutes.

Air ambulances continued to take off through the 1920s, however aircraft was still primitive at the time. Still the idea of the air ambulance caught on as the French and British both used them during wars in Africa in the 1920s. By the late 1930s Switzerland used the air ambulance to help rescue people injured participating in the growing winter sports like skiing. In 1936 the first organized air ambulance government service was underway when the wounded during the Spanish Civil War were transported to Nazi Germany for medical treatment.

By the time the United States became involved in World War II the USA had a full aircraft dedicated to air ambulance services. In April 1944 the US Army Forces transported injured British soldiers in the jungles of Burma. Overall, from April 25-26 four total return trips were made.

In the civilian world the air ambulance was experimented with early but businesses began to offer the service in a more organized fashion after World War I. The first known commercial air ambulance was developed to serve the Australian Outback in the late 1920s. The first United States air ambulance company, the Schaefer Air Service, was founded in Los Angeles in 1947. The service really took off in more remote areas of Canada through the 1940s and up to today.

By the Vietnam War the USA was using the Bell UH-1 helicopter. It was known as Huey and large enough to hold patients inside with medical personnel who could begin administering treatment while in flight. The Huey became a massive success as it reduced the average delay until full treatment to one hour.

The 1970s and 1980s saw rapid expansion of air ambulance companies in the United States as well as in Canada and Germany. Travel Care Air was founded during this explosion. The boom was created in part from government studies that showed the positive effects of the air ambulance as well as increasingly reliable and secure planes that could accommodate more advanced medical equipment.

Travel Care Air is the leading international ambulance service provider. Our services and staff are ready to assist you in your time of need no matter where you are located in the world or where you need to go. Travel Care Air will get you to your hospital of choice in a safe plane where you will feel as comfortable as possible, treated by some of the best professionals in the business. For more information about our service like us on Facebook.


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