Air Ambulance Helicopter Landing Site Safety and Coordination
Upon confirmation that the air ambulance helicopter is responding, the paramedic shall designate a Landing Site Coordinator. One rescuer (selected from the police, fire, or ambulance personnel) shall be chosen to assume the role of Landing Site Coordinator and take the following actions to coordinate the safe landing of the air ambulance helicopter while maintaining the safety of the scene.
Wear Safety Apparel
- Don and secure a high visibility vest or coat
- Don and secure a safety helmet with visor
- Wear safety goggles or safety eyewear
Landing Site Selection
The air ambulance helicopter pilot-in-command is responsible for selecting the landing site and has the final decision on whether or not to land. Using the air ambulance helicopter airborne vantage point, the pilot-in-command will select a site that best meets the following conditions:
- A site that will not affect the rescue efforts underway.
- A clear area of approximately 45 meters x 45 meters.
- A safety area, extending approximately an additional 30 meters for the purpose of controlling vehicle and personnel access during landing and take-off.
- The landing site should be away from overhead wires and utility poles.
- The surface should be as flat as possible.
- No loose debris should be within the landing site or the safety area; check ditches.
- Gravel and sand sites should be avoided, if possible, due to the potential of injury from flying dust particles and reduced visibility.
- No vehicles or personnel are allowed within the landing site and safety area during landing and take-off.
- Vehicle doors, windows, and access compartments should be closed.
- Stretchers should be left in the ambulance and all loose articles secured.
- If requested by the flight crew, the Landing Site Coordinator will stand at the upwind edge of the safety area, back to the wind and facing the site, to maintain security during landing and take-off.
- Firefighters should not lay out hoses; any lines that have been laid should be charged.
- If site security is compromised, such as personnel or vehicles entering the safety area, the Landing Site Coordinator is to wave off the air ambulance helicopter by crossing outstretched arms over his/her head.
Safely Working Around a Helicopter
- Stay out of the safety area and landing site during landing and take-off.
- Approach or depart only when directed by a member of the air crew.
- Do not approach the helicopter from the rear as the tail rotor is difficult to see.
- If on uneven ground, approach and depart from the downhill side.
- Carry all equipment horizontally at or below waist level, never over shoulder.
- Ensure hats, scarves, gloves, glasses and any other loose articles are secure before entering the safety area.
Other Use of Air Ambulance Helicopter
- Air ambulance helicopters are not permitted to respond to night calls which require a landing at a site other than night licensed airports, helipads or night approved remote landing sites.
- Air ambulance helicopters are not permitted to conduct search and rescue calls. For purposes of this section, Search and Rescue is defined as “The act of looking diligently to find a patient whose exact location is not known, and, once located, requires removal from the location using specialized tools and skills outside the scope of EMS practice.”
- In cases where a land ambulance can reach the patient(s) and an on-scene response by air ambulance helicopter is appropriate, the ACO will assign a land ambulance and continue the land response until the flight crew requests that the land ambulance be cancelled.
- In cases where a land ambulance arrives on-scene prior to the air ambulance helicopter, paramedics shall inform the CACC/ACS as clinical events occur.