The UH-1V is the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) permanent US Army conversion of the UH-1H “Huey”. A total of 200 UH-1Hs were modified to this medevac configuration in the 1980s. This single-engine helicopter carries no external weapons, but can be equipped with 6 standard litters to carry wounded. Additional medical equipment and one medical attendant could also be carried. The UH-1V was the helicopter featured in the movie Courage Under Fire.
Configured as air ambulances, they can transport three litter patients and four ambulatory patients. A crew of four operates each air ambulance: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Crew Chief andan Emergency Medical Technician. The Huey normally cruises at a speed of 100 nautical miles per hour (115 statute MPH). It has a 2-hour fuel range and a required 30-minute fuel reserve. Actual range varies with wind, temperature, altitude, length of operation while on the ground, and fuel consumption rates which vary from one helicopter to another. The Huey is equipped for operation under Federal Aviation Administration instrument flight rules (IFR) during inclement weather such as rain and cloudy conditions or periods of low visibility. It cannot operate in icing conditions or thunderstorms.
The mission of the medical company [air ambulance (UH-1V or UH-60A aircraft)] is to provide air evacuation and support within the theater of operations. This unit provides helicopter ambulances to evacuate patients consistent with evacuation priorities and operational considerations from points as far forward as possible to division MTFs and corps-level hospitals. The air ambulance company also expeditiously delivers whole blood and biological and medical supplies to meet critical requirements; rapidly moves medical personnel; and accompanies equipment and supplies to meet the requirements for mass casualty reinforcement, reconstitution, or emergency situations. This unit also moves patients between hospitals (land-based or afloat), aeromedical staging facilities (ASFs), mobile ASFs (MASFs), seaports, or railheads.
Some UH-1Vs are still serving in the Army National Guard, though most units have transitioned to the newer UH-60 “Blackhawk”. Aeromedical evacuation capabilities are rated RED in the near and mid-terms due to the continued reliance on the UH-1V and an aging UH-60A fleet for aeromedical evacuation. Aeromedical evacuation capabilities can be expected to improve to AMBER in the far-term, only if the UH-60Q program is funded. The UH-60Q represents a Priority Capability Enabler (PCE) for the AMEDD as a derivative of the UH-60 Aviation PCE.
The UH-60Q replaces UH-1V helicopters [and upgrades the UH-60A helicopter] by applying a materiel change which optimizes the aircraft for its medical evacuation mission. The materiel change makes significant improvements in the ability to provide on-board care, communicate on future battlefields, and navigate effectively in adverse weather. Conversion from the UH-1V aircraft to the UH-60Q has caused a problem reporting operational readiness rate in the Unit Status Report (USR) document. However, according to the Deputy, Medical Evacuation Proponency Directorate (MEPD) this issue was not a problem as of March 1999, when UH-60Q aircraft were only in the Tennessee National Guard; not in any active duty units and would not be for three years [by 2002].
The Department of Defense, Transportation and Health and Human Services conducted studies to determine the need to utilize military aircraft and medical personnel services to respond to civilian medical emergencies. The concept is called the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST) program. The purpose of MAST is to provide an immediate response for civilian emergency aeromedical evacuation utilizing military helicopters and accomplish in flight medical treatment of patients’ en route to appropriate medial facilities in Louisiana. MAST is utilized in transporting medical personnel, medical supplies, donor organs, whole blood and other emergency items to areas where a critical need exists.
All MAST support to the civilian EMS system will be accomplished without impact on the unit’s mission and may be altered or terminated by the Detachment Commander. MAST air ambulances are particularly suited for calls to rural or remote areas when, due to time and distance, ground ambulances exceed acceptable response times; when the patient is inaccessible due to terrain; when secondary transfer of a patient is needed from a rural hospital to a major treatment center; when transport by ground ambulance will require the patient to be absent from hospital care for a length of time which would endanger life or limb; when disaster operations would exceed the capabilities of local ground operations; and when emergency transportation of blood or organs is needed. The public law authorizing the MAST program prohibits operation outside the area unless it is clearly indicated that the helicopter is the only way to save a person’s life of limb and if a physician or nurse accompanies the patient. The capabilities and guideline procedures of MAST air ambulances include making on-site pickups of victims of automobile accidents, air crashes, farm accidents and disaster operations within the 100-mile radius.
Each air ambulance is equipped with essential implements for ambulances as recommended by the American College of Surgeons. Medical equipment required but not carried aboard the ambulance must be provided by the attending hospital. Controlled drugs and narcotics are not carried aboard the ambulance and must be provided and administered by the attending physician or nurse.