MEDEVAC= medical evacuation.
The US has three systems in theater, sometimes more depending on how you count.
Most of the time, if you are Army, MEDEVAC means helicopter = Dust-off. The Huey of Viet Nam fame has given way to the Blackhawk UH-60. Two pilots in the front, crew chief and a flight medic in the back. Rapid transport from point of injury (POI) to the next echelon of care or between echelons of care. Because the altitude, the carousels are removed (saves weight) and litters are on the floor. The idea is to get the wounded to a surgeon as rapidly as possible.
If you are a Marine – you call PEDRO (which has been known to use opportunity aircraft but otherwise mostly operates on rotary wing).
If you are Air Force – well, you usually live on a larger base (fixed wing aircraft need some kind of runway) and your mind turns to air movement within the theater – usually from Role 2 to Role 3 by C-130 (on board is either an Air Evac Team or a CCAT Team – Critical Care Air Transport Team).
If you are British – there is the MERT (transports on a Chinook) which brings critical care to point of injury, then back to the Role 3. If you are German, a similar system exists.
And, if you are Special Forces, you are special – Fever is the name of the game.
What is common to all of these systems is the use of air frames. Which air frame varies by area, country and distance to be traveled.
What is not common is the level of provider on that air craft. Gone (about time in my opinion) is the system of depending on a junior medic to do “scoop and run.” Except, of course the US Army which is persisting in outmoded doctrine. Our Allies are all putting highly qualified emergency personnel on the aircraft so that a lot of resuscitation can be accomplished during the flight.
We are getting there – SF has paramedics. Army has started using en route critical care nurses for helicopter transports between “fixed” facilities – especially where the distance facility does not have a runway capable of handling a C-130. By doing so, we are starting to bring the standard of care up to level across the theater. Especially when you consider that the patient getting moved might just be 22 and just parted with both of his legs, part of his arm and now has both IVs and Blood running and is unconscious on a respirator for stabilization and pain control during the flight.
Me? If I am going to be injured – this is the one spot in the world where I don’t worry about whether or not someone is going to get me out of there, back to the best trauma surgeons that exist and move by the most expeditious method possible.