Speaker: Vietnam War Dust Off Pilot, currently resides in Saratoga County, NY
“When I arrived in Vietnam, the Dust Off units were desperate for pilots, so they didn't care if you had any special training or not. My roommate and I arrived in Vietnam at the same time and thought it would be a good idea to volunteer for a Dust Off unit. He was killed the first three months we were there.
You know, here you are, a 21-year-old with a helicopter that the Army gave you. And of course, it had a FM radio and we’d be singing out loud in the helicopter stomping our feet flying along…“Sweet Caroline,” you know, that was always a real foot stomper. And that would get interrupted by requests for an urgent medevac. And then we went all business.
Time is the most critical element here. Our jobs in an all-volunteer unit was to accept the inherent risk in flying dust off. This means that no matter what the risk, you attempted to get to the wounded but if but you haven't been killed yet, you just continued until you completed the mission. The mixed feelings that you're going through is the adrenaline rush of getting the job done, the nagging suspicion that this could be your last flight, followed by the tremendous relief when you have the wounded on board and are enroute to the hospital. That was the cycle we lived with every time we lifted off.
There are so many visions of agony, suffering, unspeakable wounds, but somehow through all of that, someone knowing that they had been successfully medivaced and may be on their way home for good, you could see the relief in their eyes, in their face. I remember one evening, looking back in on one of the wounded soldiers, [he] gave me the thumbs up, but that's all he had on his hand, one thumb.”
Speaker: Combat Medic and Flight Paramedic, New York Army National Guard, 2005-Present
“I'm just super proud of this…in the medevac community it was somewhere in the neighborhood 90% survival rate. If you got on the helicopter with a pulse, you had a 90% chance of getting off the helicopter with a pulse. So to me, that's huge. If you were to take an over-the-road ambulance at your local fire department or ambulance corps and spill out all the stuff out there, we have all of the same stuff and more.
We can do EKG, the defibrillator, the pacing machine. We do blood pressures, blood oxygen, temperature. We also have a ventilator. We carry a blood warmer. We use it for the blood because the blood comes out of a bag with a freezer pack so it's cold. Otherwise, we have a whole drug case full of advanced cardiac life-support drugs. Full complement of splints and all that normal first aid stuff…hemorrhage control with tourniquets and abdominal tourniquets and pelvic binders. And then also in the helicopter world, if we can't land, we can still extract the wounded via this high performance rescue hoist.”
Speaker: Retired New York Air National Guard Colonel discusses her mindset as a flight nurse during the Global War on Terror
“Oh you are so busy. You've got a plan for the worst scenario. We are also trained for aircraft emergencies. In other words, if we had a fire on board or if the plane was shot and we were losing pressure in the aircraft. If you're in the air and your equipment stops on you, you got to know what to do and still continue with it right?
You just didn't even think about the dangers, at least for me. I didn't think about the dangers. I just thought, get the job done. Do it right. Get these patients from point A to point B safely and securely.”