Although a helicopter allows WINGS to land virtually anywhere, there are some important considerations when selecting and preparing a landing zone (LZ).
Whenever possible, someone not involved in patient care should be designated to keep observers at a safe distance from the aircraft, and in particular, from the vicinity of the tail rotor.
A helicopter is capable of landing and taking off vertically depending on load and local conditions. It is preferred however, to have an angled approach/departure path allowing for some forward speed in and out of the area.
Use the following guidelines when selecting and preparing a Landing Zone:
- 80ft x 80ft area during the day
- 100ft x 100ft area at night
- Area should be relatively level and clear of debris and loose objects.
- Ensure that there are no overhead wires or obstacles in the LZ. Any known hazards near the LZ or along the approach path should be reported to the flight crew. At night, perimeter obstructions may be marked by spot lights (illuminate poles, not wires) and/or parking vehicles directly under overhead obstructions.
- Emergency flashing lights make it easier to identify the LZ especially at night, but do not allow anyone to shine lights at the landing or departing aircraft. Such lighting may temporarily blind the pilot & crew.
- The LZ can be marked at night with vehicle headlights or flares. If flares are used, be aware of fire hazards.
No smoking within 50 feet of the aircraft
- Secure all items when approaching the aircraft (hats, scarves, dressings, sheets, blankets, etc.)
- NEVER approach the aircraft without first getting the attention of the pilot or until signaled to approach by one of the flight crew members.
- ALWAYS approach and depart the aircraft from the front.
- Do not approach or depart from the uphill side when the aircraft has landed near a hill.
Since the time on scene is intended to be as brief as possible, the aircraft is often kept running while the patient is loaded into the helicopter. The noise of turning rotors and running engine combined with the commotion of the scene can be a deadly distraction. Be responsible for yourself and of those around you when operating near the helicopter.
In the unlikely event of an aircraft mishap in the vicinity of the LZ during take-off or landing, treat it like you would a Motor Vehicle Accident with the following exception. Do not approach the aircraft while the rotor blades are turning. If the aircraft is upright, the flight crew will stop the engine and rotors. If the aircraft is not upright, wait until the rotors have stopped before approaching. Treat spilled fuel with the same caution you would use at any accident site. To help prevent fuel ignition, disconnect the aircraft battery located in the nose compartment of the helicopter. In the event of a fire, non-fire department personnel should only attempt suppression if the fire is minor or if extrication of the crew or patient is required.
There are two portable fire extinguishers mounted in the helicopter to assist in the emergency egress of the helicopter occupants. One is located under the patient litter and the other is located next to the pilot’s head. Once egress is complete, personnel should remain clear of the helicopter.