Sunday, February 10, 2008


Helicopter evacuation of personnel
Helicopter evacuation, usually performed by the Coast Guard, is a hazardous operation to the patient and to the flight crew, and should only be attempted in event of very serious illness or injury. Provide the doc­tor on shore with all the information you can concern­ing the patient, so that an intelligent evaluation can be made concerning the need for evacuation. Most rescue helicopters can proceed less than 150 miles offshore (a few new helicopters can travel 250 to 300 miles out to sea), dependent on weather conditions and other vari­ables. If an evacuation is necessary, the vessel must be prepared to proceed within range of the helicopter, and should be familiar with the preparations which are necessary prior to and after its arrival. Give the accurate position, time, speed, course, weather conditions, sea conditions, wind direction and velocity, type of vessel, give complete medical information including whether or not the patient is ambulatory. If you are beyond helicoper range give your diversion intentions so that a rendezvous point may be selected.

Preparations prior to arrival of helicopter
Select and clear the most suitable hoist area, preferably aft on the vessel with a minimum of 50 feet 15.2 meters radius of clear deck. This must include the securing of loose gear, awnings. and antenna wires. Trice up running rigging and booms. If hoist is aft, lower the flag staff. If the hoist is to take place at night, light the pickup areas as well as possible. Be sure you do not shine any lights on the helicopter, so that the pilot is not blinded. If there are any obstructions in the vicinity, put a light on them so the pilot will be aware of their positions. Be sure to advise the helicoper of the pickup area on the ship before the helicopter arrives, so that the pilot may make his approach to aft, amidships, or forward, as required. There will be a high noise level under the helicopter, so voice communications on deck are almost impossible. Arrange a set of hand signals among the crew who will assist.

Hoist operations
If possible have the patient moved to a position as close to the hoist area as his condition will permit, time is important. Normally if a litter is required, it will be necessary to move the patient to the special litter which will be lowered by the helicopter. Be prepared to do this as quickly as possible. Be sure the patient is strapped in, face up, and with a life jacket on (if his condition will permit). Be sure that the patient is tagged to indicate what medication, if any, was administered to him and when it was administered. Have the patients medical record and papers in an envelope or package ready for transfer with the patient. If the patients condition permits be sure they are wearing a life jacket. Change the vessel's course to permit the vessel to ride as easily as possible with the wind on the bow, preferably on the port bow. Try to choose a course to keep the stack gases clear of the hoist area. Once established, maintain course and speed. Reduce speed to ease the ships motion, but maintain steerageway. If you do not have radio contact with the helicopter, when you are ready for the hoist, signal the helicopter in with a "come on" with your hand, or at night by flashlight signals. Let the basket or stretcher touch the deck before handling to avoid static shock. Do not secure the cable or trail line to the vessel or attempt to move the stretcher without unhooking.