Landing a medical helicopter is a delicate operation that requires skilled flight crews and trained personnel on the ground following well-rehearsed, pre-planned procedures for the safety of all involved.
Fire and emergency medical services agencies can access free resources to review their procedures for establishing a safe air medical transport landing zone:
- A June 2022 FirefighterCloseCalls.com article provides tips and links to training videos on landing zone safety.
- Responder Safety Learning Network's Special Hazards is a free 1-hour, self-paced training module that discusses the traffic incident management impacts of several special circumstances: HAZMAT, medical helicopters, vehicle extrication and crash investigation.
2 recent medical helicopter incidents illustrate the importance of ensuring a safe landing zone for air medical transport:
Suffolk County, New York
On June 30, 2022, a helicopter landed at a medevac landing zone. After the patient was transferred to the helicopter, a sheet from the fire department ambulance stretcher came loose and was blown into the rotor system. The helicopter was shut down and the patient was transferred to a second aircraft for transport. There were no injuries, and the helicopter was soon restored to service.
Butler County, Ohio
On July 26, 2022, a helicopter responding to a fatal car accident crashed after colliding with power lines adjacent to the landing zone. The pilot was notified by the fire department of the presence of power lines near the landing zone but was unable to visually locate the lines prior to landing. This crash resulted in injuries to all 3 crew members.
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