Where Did Life Flight Come From

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James J. Alonzo

Regardless of what anyone says there are many good things that came out of Viet Nam war. One was the discovery of the “Golden Hour”, where medical care was given to  severely wounded soldiers within an hour, and  their chances of survival was a lot higher.

On the battlefield in Vietnam, wounded soldiers were transported by heroic pilots to advanced medical care by helicopters manned with a medic who treated the patients en route. This scenario drastically changed the statistics regarding correlations of wartime deaths with battle wounds.

In World War II, four out of every one hundred wounded soldiers, who reached medical care, died. In the Korean War helicopters were introduced to quickly move wounded soldiers to MASH units. This brought the toll down to two deaths for every one hundred wounded soldiers. In Vietnam, medics were added to the helicopters, bringing the death toll to one per hundred wounded soldiers who reached medical care.

Seeing the drastic changes “medevacs” brought about during the Vietnam War, back in the USA, civilian agencies decided it was time to make air ambulance transport available to the rural, and urban communities of America. Critically ill and injured patients living up to 150 miles away from medical emergency care now had significantly increased chances of survival.

Since the early days of air medical transport, these committed individuals have carried on with the notions of reaching new heights and performing the extraordinary when saving lives. By remaining consistently caring and technologically progressive, their extraordinary deeds have become the ordinary, yet without a loss of recognition for their spirit of service and life, family and community-changing accomplishments.

The lesson learned by all is that community-based air ambulance transportation is a vital need. Life Flight, as it is commonly called, is there when called upon to render highly specialized care, and close the gap of time and distance.

More than 40 years of  developement in Life Flight provides us the solid foundation on which to reach even newer heights while performing the ordinary and the extraordinary in lifesaving Emergency Medical Services.

The results of Life Flight choppers are measured in lives saved.

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