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April 27, 1994

Time-tested 'Hospital' Planes, Crews Ready for Routine or Disaster Situations

JAMA. 1994;271(16):1225-1228. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510400011003

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ARMY PARATROOPERS who survived the fiery aircraft crash in North Carolina are being treated at the military's unique burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Tex (JAMA. 1991;265: 1917-1922).

These burn victims, their comrades who were taken to Texas later, and numerous other military patients have some of the world's most unusual airplanes to thank for a swift, medically supported trip. The aircraft involved are C-9A Nightingales, specially modified versions of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 twin-jet commercial airliner.

Aeromedical evacuation of course is nothing new—a hot-air balloon having been used for that purpose during the 1870 siege of Paris, France, and the first known plan to transport patients by airplane having been proposed by US Army officers in 1910 (JAMA. 1945;127:525) —and neither are the C-9As, the first of which began US Air Force service 26 years ago (JAMA. 1968;205:30-31). However, the C-9As now are

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