In 1943, Elsie S. Ott, second lieutenant and her team performed the “first intercontinental aeromedical evacuation for injured patients during World War II,” according to The Purple Heart Foundation.
As Women's History Month comes to a conclusion, this heroine during the early 40’s paved the way for future air evacuations for the military medical care community.
Aeromedical evacuation is defined as the use of military transport aircraft to carry wounded personnel.
Before this moment, Ott had only a few months of military experience but, no flight experience. With little to no preparation or consultation, Ott, an Army nurse and her team flew from Karachi, India to the Washington, D.C. over the course of six days. “Normally this trip would have taken three month by ship and ground transportation,” according to The National Museum of The Air Force.
On the plane, Ott was responsible for five medical casualties.
“Two patients had been paralyzed from the waist down, one had tuberculosis, one had glaucoma and another patient had manic-depressive psychosis,” according to The Purple Heart Foundation.
Ott overseen the care of each of the patients, including more that they picked up on their way to the United States, equaling out to be eleven patients in total.
As an Army nurse, Ott took notes during the flight for future nurses who would be on the aircraft during these medical evacuations.
According to The Purple Heart Foundation, “Ott’s historic air evacuation flight return to the U.S. revolutionized the future of air evacuations for the military medical community. Ott became the first Army Air Medal female recipient. She was awarded the U.S. Air Medal by President Roosevelt in March of 1943 at Bowman Army Airfield near Louisville, Ky., just two months after her historic flight.”