The definition of a medevac is the transport of a person or persons to the hospital in a helicopter or airplane. In the past, medevac was a term that was given to indicate the transport or evacuation of military casualties to hospitals or staging grounds to receive medical treatment and triage.
On a medevac flight, trained medical personnel, nurses, doctors or EMS and first responders will accompany the aircraft to the site of the incident or evacuation . The clinical team is responsible for on-site triage and treatment of the person or persons while the pilot is generally responsible for flying the aircraft. In the case of firefighting and evacuation from remote locations, the pilot will be EMS trained and capable and can assist if needed.
Helicopters have played an integral role in medevac services for several years and throughout the majority of the military involved conflicts. In recent years, they have served as an important resource for civilian and humanitarian relief in repatriation, evacuation, and transport to hospitals and medical treatment facilities. According to the Association of Air Medical Services , there are at least 400,000 rotor-wing transports each year.
Rotor wing aircraft, chosen as a means of conveyance for several reasons, primarily because of their payload capability, their range, their effect regarding the cost-effectiveness of the operation, and geographic location. Although there are specific types developed singularly for medevac purposes, some of the most commonly used are listed below.
There is much debate within the emergency services community and with veteran pilots as to whether single or multi-engine helicopters are more proficient at implementing Medevac services. In truth, it’s largely dependent upon the type of mission the medevac is needed for and the room that the mission’s type requires. Larger helicopters, which contain the most capacity for cargo and travelers require the use of more than one engine to effectively and successfully lift their payloads.
Less likely to suffer engine failure. Considered a safer and more cost-effective option.
- the Bell 206/407
- the Airbus AS350/EC130
For multi-engine aircraft:
Pilots traveling over rough terrain, mountainous regions or offshore and after nightfall will find the availability of more than one engine to be a source of confidence.
- Bell 222/230/412/429
- Airbus BO-105/BK-117/EC-135/EC-145/AS-365
- Agusta A-109/139
- the Sikorsky S-76
This list is comprehensive of the most common aircraft utilized in medevac services and does not contain the listing of all helicopters used the world over. However, each of the aircraft cataloged has seen numerous test flights and has been utilized in medevac services for evacuation and ambulatory transport successfully and safely throughout the course of hundreds of missions.