Helicopter Landings

MMiz

I put the M in EMTLife
Community Leader
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You rural folks will probably have more experience with this stuff than I do.

A week or two ago we got called to a field aprox. 1 mile north of a trauma center to meet a helicopter w/ critical patient on board.

As we got closer to the scene, we saw what we thought was the helicopter, circling around the area looking for the landing pad. We arrived at about 8:30 PM, and a security force in low-profile vehicles was standing guard.

Finally, literally minutes after we pulled in, they landed a short distance to the right of our vehicle. Once the 3 crew members were on our unit, and the patient was transported the mile to the trauma center, they wondered why we didn't turn on our lights to light up the landing area.

I had no instructions to light up, but then again the security force directing us was not medical or technically police authorities. I've heard of people using strobes, other use strobes with cones over them.

I'm wondering what your policy is on these things. Again, remember that I work for a private company that is within 10 minutes of a trauma center. There is no need for helicopter landings in rural places. All hospitals have helicopter pads, I still can't figure out why this helicopter couldn't just land on the hospital's pad.

Okay, enough rambling, anyone have any experience with this stuff?
 

TKO

Forum Lieutenant
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well our policy was that we do not go onto the landing pad until they have completly landed and shut off engines. we also are to turn on lites. we dont deal with helicopters though. the smartest thing i would have thought of thought was to land at the hospital but who knows.
 

ffemt8978

Forum Vice-Principal
Community Leader
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We deal with them all of the time.

First of all, you should of had a radio frequency like Mutual Aid that would have allowed you to communicate directly with the helicopter. The pilot needs information about hazards in the landing area (power lines, trees, etc...), and you need patient info. Most helicopters have a "dial-a-frequency" radio that allows them to transmit and receive on almost any frequency they need.

Secondly, always turn on your overhead lights when dealing with a helicopter. You would not believe how visible they are from the air. Also, at night, use your LOW beam headlights to light up the landing area. You also want to mark the landing area with 5 flares/Chem-Lites. One at each corner, and one marking the direction the wind is coming from. See below.


...........Wind
X...........X..........X



X.......................X

You should have at least 100 feet on each side of the square for the LZ.

As far as landing on the helipad goes, maybe they were having problems with the lights on the pad, it was decertified for some reason, or there was another helicopter there.

Hope this answers your question.
 

rescuecpt

Community Leader Emeritus
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Our helos are run by the County PD. We request them through PD, if they're not on scene we go through MedCom or FireCom. Each pilot is different and has their own quirks, so I always ask PD to tell me what the pilot needs done. We have 4 potential landing zones in our district.

Our first choice is the Coast Guard Station because they have a pad, but there are at least 5 speed bumps on the small windy road going there - depending on the patient that may cause problems (they're big bumps). The second choice is the parking lot at the beach, but we usually only use that at night during the summer (too many people during the day) or in the winter. It's also nicer when the sand is wet so it doesn't fly as much. Then there's a cul-de-sac that is twice as wide as most, but then we have containment problems with the residents who want to get in and out of their houses, and the usual lookey-loos. Our last resort is to land on the pad and street in front of the firehouse. We have to shut down the only road in and out of the neighborhood to do that, and we have propane, diesel, and gas tanks nearby so goodness forbid anything happens, it would be a big mess.
 

ffemt8978

Forum Vice-Principal
Community Leader
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We've actually launched the helo before we even left for the station to get the ambulances. It's great when the helicopter is landing the same time you are arriving on scene since it looks like we're really on the ball. :D
 

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