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Helicopter Operations. Developed as part of the National Emergency Services Curriculum Project. Reasons to transport survivors via helicopter.

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Helicopter Operations

Developed as part of the National Emergency Services Curriculum Project


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Reasons to transport survivors via helicopter

  • Would the amount of time needed to transport a patient by ground transportation to an appropriate facility pose a threat to the patient's survival and recovery?

  • Would weather, road conditions, or other factors affecting the use of ground transportation seriously delay the patient's access to advanced life support care?

  • Does the available rescue have the clinical skills or equipment needed to care for the patient during transport?


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Aggravating Factors

  • Patients with advanced medical trauma issues may need to be transported via helicopter. The following aggravating factors are indicators

    • Head injuries or comatose

    • A systolic blood pressure <90

    • A respiratory rate <10 or >35

    • A pulse rate <60 or >120

    • A prolonged extrication


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Aggravating Factors Continued

  • Paralysis of extremities or spinal cord injuries

  • Associated fatalities

  • A sprung or crushed pelvis

  • Severe oral or facial injuries

  • A need for Advanced Life Support

  • An inability to maintain a patient airway

  • Qualified personnel make the decision to use a helicopter


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Information needed when requesting a helicopter

  • Team Name, organization, and team information

  • Exact location of the accident, Latitude and Longitude

  • Accident location in relation to towns or major roads, as well as recent major hazards possibly caused by the accident

  • Nature of Accident

  • Number and relative ages of patients


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Info. needed when requesting a helicopter Continued

  • Types of injuries of patients to be transported

  • Whether patients are trapped or were involved in a prolonged extrication

  • Frequency and callsigns to communicate with ground crews from the helicopter, along with PL tones if any


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Landing Site Requirements

  • Should measure at least 60 feet square, preferably larger around 100 feet square

    • Obstructions surrounding the site may necessitate it to be larger

    • Remember that even though a helicopter may be able to land along a vertical plane in most situations, most helicopter pilots will want to have an approach and takeoff area


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Landing Site Requirements Continued

  • Consider the type of ground

    • Don't want an extremely sloped or rocky field

    • Notify pilot of any obstructions such as tall grass, rocks, or loose dirt. The pilots point of view causes him not to be able to see them until right on top of them

  • Consider possible alternative sites if the accident site or first landing site chosen is possibly unfeasible




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Marking the Landing Site

  • Mark the corners with secure items so that problems don't occur in the rotor wash

    • Many companies make markers specifically for this option

    • Smoke isn’t recommended in this situation because most first responders in an overzealous mode will make the site invisible rather than just an edge


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Marking the Landing Site Continued

  • At night, the landing area should be illuminated, but take caution not to blind the pilot on landing and takeoff

    • Have vehicles aim lights on low beams into the site

    • The helicopter pilot will most likely contact the ground crew to also turn these off so that the pilot and crew isn’t blinded on the approach

    • All helicopters have some sort of landing light


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Marking the Landing Site Continued

  • Clear the site of all debris that might get sucked up in the rotor wash

    • Only put signal markers in the center of the landing area on request of the helicopter pilot.




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Approaching the Helicopter

  • Stay out of the landing site unless accompanied by a member of the aircrew or directed by an aircrew member.

  • Always approach the helicopter from the front of the aircraft because of helicopter blind spots and danger areas.

  • Always approach the helicopter in a crouched position with IVs or long objects carried low or parallel to the ground


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Approaching the Helicopter Continued

  • When approaching on a slope, approach from downhill, since the rotor will be closer on the uphill side normally, if unsure wait for an escort from the flight crew.

  • Never walk around in the tail rotor area.




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General Helicopter Guidelines

  • DO NOT SMOKE in the landing area.

  • No vehicles are allowed within the landing site

  • Transferring patient(s) from the team litter to the helicopter litter is done outside of the landing area

  • Only the flight crew will open and close the doors or compartments on the helicopter

  • All unauthorized personnel should stay out of the landing area.


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Helicopter Operations Tasks

  • Ground Team Leader

    • O-1002: Establish a Helicopter Landing Zone