Apparently dating to the Korean War era, this fascinating film describes how aircraft were used to rapidly evacuate wounded soldiers from remote bases to stateside facilities so that they can receive hospital care quickly. The setting of the film is the St. Alban's Naval Hospital, aka Naval Hospital Brooklyn, in Long Island, New York. The film features General Wilfred Hall, responsible for Air Evacauation as part of the Military Air Transportation Service (MATS), speaking about how the airplane can bring the patient to the doctor in the modern era. 2 million men were transferred by air through 1943, saving many lives and dollars. The film shows how the MATS can rush patients to various hospitals by air, including a flight from Frankfurt to the USA aboard a C-97 Stratofreighter military transport. The film also shows evacuation of American wounded from Korea around the 11 minute mark.
General Wilfred Hall incidentally was an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, and head of the medical facilities of the Military Air Transport Service out of Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. General Hall oversaw 21 hospitals scattered around the world and, consequently, traveled often by air.
After the war, the hospital absorbed the workload of Naval Hospital Brooklyn when that facility was decommissioned. In the mid-1970s, the Navy decommissioned the hospital and turned it over to the Veterans’ Administration. The facility now serves as a VA Community Living Center. Recent news suggests that the VA has plans to demolish the old hospital structures and replace them with modern facilities.
Even though during World War I the air ambulance made significant advancement, at the beginning of World War II many military authorities believed air evacuation of patients was not only dangerous, but also, medically unsound and militarily impossible. General David Grant’s, the first air surgeon of the Army air forces’, proposal for an air evacuation service was met with much opposition in the upper levels of the Army. However, Grant continued to push for an air evacuation system, and in June 1942 he succeeded. The first large-scale combat aeromedical evacuation of the war took place in New Guinea in August 1942. The Fifth Army air force evacuated more that 13,000 patients over 700 miles to Australia in a period of seven days because of an Allied counteroffensive against the Japanese.
By 1943, the Army Air Evacuation service had moved significant numbers of wounded soldiers by air transport. That year alone, over 173,500 casualties were air evacuated back to the United States. During the following year 1944, over 545,000 casualties were air evacuated, and in 1945 at the wars end, over 454,000 more soldiers were evacuated with a thre- year total of over one million. The new air evacuation doctrine showed that aeromedical evacuation was a new alternative. One key leader who was convinced of the importance of aeromedical evacuation was General Dwight D.Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Weeks after D day, GeneralEisenhower stated, “We evacuated almost everyone from our forward hospitals by air,and it has unquestionably saved hundreds of lives--thousand of lives.”