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General Guidelines

  • Approach and depart helicopter from the front or forward-sides- ideally in the space defined by ‘10 + 2’ on a clock.

  • Always establish visual contact with the pilot before approaching. If unsure, do not approach.

  • Where possible, maintain radio communications with the pilot at all times.

  • When approaching at night, await a predetermined signal such as a the flashing of a head-torch or vehicle headlights.

  • Never approach or depart toward the tail of the helicopter; always be aware of the tail rotor.

  • Always approach and depart from the downhill slope (if present)

  • Carry all equipment and patients below waist level.

  • Secure all loose equipment on the ground (including wind-socks, lights and flares).

  • Protect patients by using natural features or building a small fortress (using packs, bags, etc), between them and the aircraft.

  • At night, designate the landing zone by crossing vehicle headlights or using head-torches in a similar manner.

  • Small fires may be lit to designate landing zone corners, however must be well-controlled and attended at all times.

  • Never shine lights or laser beams directly at the pilot.

  • All non-essential lights should be extinguished.

  • Always be aware that helicopters will approach and land from a downwind direction

Landing Zone Specifications

  • Landing zones should, ideally, measure a 40m x 40m square, with minimal ground debris or overhead structures in the vicinity.

  • The landing zone should be as flat as possible. In the case where flat land is not available, the slope should not exceed 5 degrees.

  • On a beach or similar surface, a large ‘H’ can be used to designate the middle of the landing zone.

  • The landing zone must be kept free of personnel and debris at all times.

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Below is a video of a real helicopter winch rescue conducted at the Cathedral Ranges. The Ultra Runner who had fallen off a ledge had severe pain on her pelvis and lower legs. The video has been provided by the patient herself to Survive First Aid. 

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