ANC Flight Nurses
Aerial evacuation of wounded American soldiers
from North Africa began in 1943 and expanded to all fronts during the course
of the war. The nurses who accompanied these medical flights were known
as Flight Nurses.
They received special training, such as learning
the effects of high flight altitude on different types of patients, responding
to aircraft emergencies and post-crash survival in oceanic, desert, jungle
or polar environments.Flight Nurses were also exposed to additional dangers
apart from the hazards of routine flying, because the aircraft used for
aerial medical evacuations also served as transport carriers and thus carried
no Red Cross markings to protect them from hostile fire. Each medical flight
usually included a medic and a nurse, and could handle up to 25 patients.
|The flight nurses administered routine medical
attention such as bandage changes and oxygen provision, supervised adverse
patient responses to their injuries or fear of flight (many soldiers had
never previously flown in an airplane), and handled in-flight medical emergencies.
The unusually rough landings, takeoffs and bumpy flight patterns necessitated
flight nurses stay in excellent physical condition.
During the war, 500 flight nurses served within
the 31 American aerial evacuation transportation units throughout the world.
Loss rates were lowered by the fast air evacuations, and of 1,176,048 patients
only 46 died during these flights. In a tribute to their bravery, 17 flight
nurses were killed in the war.