Medical transportation has existed ever since injured people have needed to be taken to the nearest healer or doctor. Ancient Greek and Roman soldiers have sometimes carried off the line of battle on their shields. For high-ranking officials and military leaders, a chariot might be used to speed the evacuation. In later wars, horse-drawn carriages would ferry soldiers from the fighting to the aid station. In small towns, an ambulance was often unnecessary, as the local doctor would visit the infirm in their own homes. Today, the most common way to get an injured person to a hospital or treatment location is with an automobile ambulance. However, there are many other forms of ambulances throughout the world. Here are three ways, other than automobiles, that people are taken to hospitals.
After automobiles, the most common form of medical transportation, at least in the United States, is the helicopter. Helicopters first saw major use as transport vehicles during the Korean War. The United States military showed how effectively they could be used to deliver troops to remote locations, and retrieve them quickly when needed. Today, helicopters are used for very severe injuries, where every second gained is vital to the survival of the patient. A helicopter can carry a patient from the scene of an accident to a nearby hospital in significantly less time than a traditional ambulance. Along with the greater speed of a helicopter, which can reach up to 250 mph, it also does not have to contend with the traffic and other obstacles that any road poses. Helicopters are also used to pick patients up from remote locations that are inaccessible to other means of transport, such as islands, wilderness, and mountaintops.
When accidents occur on lakes, around islands, or along the coast, water ambulances are often used to carry survivors to the nearest hospital. Due to their larger size, these ships usually have several trained personnel on board, as well as more, and better, equipment, when compared to an automobile. For accidents that happen far out to sea, coast guards around the world will aid injured passengers and take them to the nearest land to receive treatment. In severe cases, a helicopter may be dispatched to pick up a patient from a ship while still at sea. Due to the remote nature of the sea, and the obligation any vessel has to respond to a distress call, commercial cargo ships, fishing boats, and private yachts often provide medical transportation as well.
By far the least commonly used medical transportation method, planes are nonetheless important. The most common use of planes to transport patients is when a patient needs to receive treatment at a specific facility. This might be because the facility has the best surgeon in a particular field or is where the person donating an organ is located. Although rarely used, plane ambulances can save lives.
Just as there are a wide variety of ways a person can be injured, there is also a wide range of ways they can be taken to the hospital.