Dustoff -- Emergency Medical Evacuation

The following sequence of photographs taken on 18 December 1970 was all too familiar
in the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry tactical area of operations in Vietnam in 1970.  Over
400 soldiers in the Battalion were killed or wounded  in that year.  Practically all
were dustoff cases.

Requests for dustoff support were sent by radio on a primary frequency of 46.90 mhz (or
alternate frequency 67.55 mhz).  After supplying their radio callsign and location coded for
map reference, soldiers on the ground were supposed to use the following format to request aid:

1.  Category (Urgent, Priority, Routine)
2.  Number of casualties
3.  Type (US, ARVN, VC, VN)
4.  Nature of wounds (gunshot, fragmentation, multiple, sucking chest, fractures, etc.)
5.  Number litter; number ambulatory
6.  Cause -- contact with enemy or boobytrap

Additional information was to be provided to the inbound dustoff helicopter.

1.  The exact location (marked by colored smoke, color panel, mirror, strobe light, etc.)
2.  Status of PZ -- secure, or unsecured
3.  Latest contact with the enemy
4.  Hazards on the PZ (e.g. trees, enemy positions, etc.)
5.  Recommended approach

Once the dustoff aircraft arrived on the scene in the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry area of operations
in 1970, it usually hovered a few feet off the ground rather than landing. This was done to avoid
detonating additional booby traps that may have been set in potential landing sites adjacent to
areas where booby traps were set.  Medical personnel on board the helicopter generally
would wait for the soldiers on the ground to carry or assist the wounded to the aircraft.
Another wounded medic was of little use to those soldiers previously injured or wounded.

In this sequence, captured by a US Army motion picture photographer [SP4 Williams, SEPAC
Project No. 330, Subject 59th Engineer Company Land Clearing, Location Chu Lai] an injured
soldier is evacuated from the land clearing "cut" in the vicinity of Hill 76, BS 683 836 with the
assistance of soldiers who were providing security at the site.  Photos provided by Wayne
Johnston (1-6 Inf 1970-71); converted from 16 mm film/video III LC 56352 available at the
National Archives II, College Park, MD.

Dustoff medical evacuation helicopter on final approach into an PZ marked by red smoke.

Soldiers move toward the center of the PZ with the injured soldier on a stretcher.

Medivac aircraft hovers over the PZ as soldiers approach.

As the helicopter hovers over the PZ, soldiers lift the stretcher and place their injured comrade
aboard.  In ten to fifteen minutes, he will receive emergency care at the 91st Evacuation Hospital in
Chu Lai.

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