Landing Zone Preparation

Selection of the preferred landing site is one of the most important components of safe helicopter operations. A site that is too small, filled with debris or obstructed by trees or wires is a recipe for disaster. Careful checks of a site can help speed patient transport by reducing the likelihood of a change in the Landing Zone (LZ) location.

HealthNet Aeromedical Services requires a minimum of 100” x 100”relatively flat area for daytime operations. The area must be clear of power lines and overhanging trees. The pilot should be informed of obstacles higher than knee level, such as fence posts, before the aircraft is seen by the ground crew. It is essential that you report any high tension power lines within a one-mile radius of the desired landing area.

The Selection: Nighttime

For nighttime operations, you must secure an area at least 100' x 100'. As in daytime operations, the area must be clear of obstructions and debris.  The flight crew is equipped with night vision goggles in order to enhance the safety of each mission. It is important to leave all emergency lights on to better mark the area. When the helicopter is on approach, you may be instructed by the crew to turn emergency lights off.

The landing area should be marked with battery-powered lights arranged
in a triangle or square. Alternately, low-beam headlights can be crossed to designate the desired landing area. Please remember to never shine spotlights or flashlights directly at the aircraft. It is also important that the landing zone team prevent flash photography or television cameras from
being directed at the aircraft or crew.

The Landing Zone Team: Roles and Responsibilities

The LZ Safety Team holds ultimate responsibility for ground operations before the aircraft arrives. It should consist of two experienced people. Their job is to identify and secure the site, provide information on the landing zone to MedCom or the aircraft via radio communication, and to ensure safe operations in and around the landing zone.

Aircraft On Approach!

Prior to the arrival of the aircraft, the LZ should be checked for debris, and nonessential personnel should be kept 100 feet back from the outer areas of the landing zone. It is preferred that one person be assigned to secure the front of the site while another secures the back.

The LZ Safety Team should observe the area and prevent running,
smoking or the loss of hats or loose objects. At the same time the ground
team should be protected. Secure clothing.  Eye and hearing protection are recommended.

The Landing

Before making final approach into an LZ, the pilot will often circle the area to observe the site. In fact, this is often done several times. It may appear as if the aircraft is leaving the area. This is not the case; the pilot is merely flying to assess the site and prepare for approach.

During landing, the LZ Safety Team must ensure that all remains safe on
the ground. It is important that you constantly look at the surrounding area and not fixate on the aircraft. Things change at LZ sites, should this occur, notify flight crew immediately via radio.  It is the responsibility of the LZ
Safety Team to recognize and react to these changes. During final
approach, remember to protect the patient, secure all loose equipment and protect your eyes.

Aircraft On The Ground

When the aircraft has landed, the flight team will exit the aircraft and assess the area. They will then go to the patient's side. No one should approach the aircraft. During this time, the LZ Safety Team must assure that everyone is kept 100' back from the site. During most scene responses, the rotor blades and engines will continue to run. It is essential that no items be thrown or left unsecure in the area of the LZ.

Loading and Departure

When the patient is ready for transport, the flight team will need assistance loading. Usually, two additional people are required. Anyone assisting must always follow the directions of the flight team. Remember to always approach the aircraft from the front, within full view of the pilot. You should never approach the helicopter from the rear. While loading, no one should go behind the rear skid of the aircraft.

Once the patient is loaded, the flight team will operate the aircraft doors.
The doors are susceptible to damage, and the aircraft cannot lift off if
damage has occurred. During departure the LZ Safety Team should remain alert and radio the aircraft of any problems noted. The LZ should be kept
clear until the aircraft is out of sight. The LZ radio frequency should be left open for 3-5 minutes in the unlikely event that the helicopter would need
to return to the site.

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