Project Med-Aid Records, 1965-1970

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Long, Ernest Croft
Contains the business records of Project Med-Aid, a radio consultative program based at Duke University which used radio communications to assist isolated doctors in other countries. Types of materials include correspondence, reports, clippings, photographs, constitution and bylaws, minutes, a grant application, blueprints, logs, and participant lists. Major subjects include Duke University Medical Center, amateur radio stations, E. Croft Long, radio, and medical missions. Materials range in date from 1965 to 1970.
0.5 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Contains correspondence, reports, clippings, photographs, constitution and bylaws, minutes, a grant application, blueprints, logs, and participant lists pertaining to the operation of Duke University's radio consultative program, Med-Aid. Materials range in date from 1965 to 1970.

Biographical / historical:

In 1966, Duke University Medical Center became the first medical center in the world to offer a radio consultative program to isolated doctors in other countries. The radio program, Med-Aid (shortened for Medical Assistance for Isolated Doctors), met critical needs of physicians in developing countries. Especially in mission stations situated in remote areas (like jungle hospitals, mobile units, and village clinics) having a ready means of contacting fellow physicians for advice, consultation, and reassurance, was invaluable. The radio station was run by members of the Duke Medical Center Amateur Radio Club. A short-wave radio transmitter, located in the attic of Duke Hospital, operated on frequencies allocated to amateur radio operators ("ham" operators). The station transmitted and received AM, SSB (single side band), morse code, and teletype communications and operated under the call sign WB4BLK.
Med-Aid was a program of the Division of International Health in the department of preventive medicine. During its first year of operation, Project Med-Aid assisted in over 350 cases. The Club later learned to transmit electrocardiograms on the amateur bands by converting the output of an EKG machine to a frequency modulated (FM) tone. Calls for assistance came primarily from Latin America and Africa, but also included the Netherlands, Canada, and eastern Europe. The process was simple: consultant doctors at Duke University Medical Center answered inquiries via telephone. The telephone connected to a radio transmitter and receiver for easy communication with the calling party. Consultants recommended various courses of treatment or drugs for patients. Project Med-Aid staff relayed needs of the physicians to drug companies or governmental agency suppliers of medicine. Finally, emergency shipments of medicine were flown to the site. Tape recording equipment was also used if there was a need to transmit an answer at a later time.
Project Med-Aid was directed by E. Croft Long, then assistant dean of the Duke University School of Medicine and associate professor of preventive medicine. It was supported by a grant from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Elida B. Langley Charitable trust of New York City. Charter members of the Amateur Radio Club were Joseph P. Edwards (supervisor of central services in the College of Engineering and president and trustee of the club), Wilburt L. McIver (technician in the medical center's ADDA Conversion Laboratory and activities manager), Edwin A. Wallace (an American doctor located in Nicaragua and vice president), Warren S. Bird (chief of machine applications in the Medical Center Library, and secretary-treasurer), Felix Whitaker (an experienced amateur radio operator and honorary member), and E. Croft Long.
The Club was informally associated with American Doctors, Inc. (AMDOC), an organization which helped doctors in remote stations and field hospitals by sending American doctors as temporary replacements. The Club was also associated with the Direct Relief Foundation, a charitable organization that distributed pharmaceutical drugs to missions all over the world. In times of emergency, the station also handled calls from other health-related organizations.
Project Med-Aid was discontinued sometime after 1970.

Acquisition information:
Source unknown
Processing information:

Processed by Emily Glenn: February 2004

Organized into the following series: Records, 1965-1970.
Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.


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Personal Name(s):
Long, E. Croft (Ernest Croft)
Corporate Name(s):
Duke University. School of Medicine
Duke University. Medical Center
Topical Term(s):
Rural Health.
Delivery of Health Care.


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Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Project Med-Aid Records, Duke University Medical Center Archives.