Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Helicopter Evacution Procedures

Helicopter Evacuation Procedures
The following procedures are used by the Coast Guard during helicopter evacuation from a vessel. If you have a radio aboard, further instructions may be given by the helicopter on the voice distress frequency. As Captain or Boat Operator, each person on board is under your care and although the Coast Guard may assist you, each person is your responsibility. Helicopter evacuation is a hazardous operation to the patient and the helo crew, and should only be attempted in event of very serious illness or injury. Make sure you give the doctor all the information you can concerning the patient so an evaluation can be made concerning the need for evacuation. Today's helicopters can only proceed up to 100 miles offshore for a pickup, and then only if weather conditions permit. They have limited time to conduct the evacuation before fuel constraints require the helicopter to return to base. If you have a victim on board and believe that an evacuation is necessary, find a safe course and make best speed towards the closest Coast Guard air station.

Requesting Helicopter Assistance
(1) Give accurate position, time, speed, course, weather conditions, sea conditions, wind direction and velocity, type of vessel, and radio frequencies.
(2) If not already provided, give complete medical information including whether or not patient is able to walk.
(3) If you are beyond helicopter range, advise your intentions so that a rendezvous point may be selected.
(4) If there are any changes in any plans or information, advise immediately. Should the patient expire prior to arrival of the helicopter, be sure to advise.

Making preparations for the Arrival of the Helicopter
(1) Provide continuous radio guard on 2182 kHz or specified voice frequency if possible.
(2) Clear most suitable hoist area. This should include securing of loose gear, awnings and
antenna wires. Lash up or stow running rigging and booms. The stern is the preferred hoist area. The foredeck should be prepared only when the stern or amidships cannot possibly be used.
(3) If the hoist is at night, light the pickup areas as well as best you can. Be sure you do not shine any lights on the helicopter that might blind the pilot and crew. If there are obstructions in the vicinity, put a light on them so the pilot will be aware of their positions.
(4) Advise location of pickup area before the helicopter arrives so the pilot may adjust for and make the approach aft, amidships, or forward.
(5) Remember, there will be a high noise level under the helicopter, voice communication is almost impossible. Have a set of hand signals among the crew who will assist.

Hosit Operations
(1) If possible, have patient moved to close to the hoist area as his condition permits.
(2) Normally, if a litter is required, it will be necessary to move the patient to the special litter that will be lowered by the helo. Be ready to do this as quick as possible. Make sure the patient is strapped in, face up. If patient’s condition permits, ensure that they are wearing a lifejacket. Be sure patient is tagged to indicate what and when medication was given.
(3) Change course to permit the your boat to ride as easily as possible with the wind on the bow, preferably on the port bow. Try to choose a course to keep engine exhausts clear of hoist area.
(4) Reduce speed to ease ship's motion but maintain steerageway.
(5) If you do not have radio contact with the helo, when you are ready for the hoist, signal the helo in with a "come on" by hand, or use flashlight at night.
(7) If a trail line is dropped by the helo, guide the basket or stretcher to deck with the line. keep line clear at all times, the line will not cause shock.
(8) Place patient in basket sitting with hands clear of sides, or in the litter. Signal helo hoist operator when ready for hoist. Patient nods head if he is able. If you are on deck give a thumbs up. DO NOT SECURE CABLE TO VESSEL OR ATTEMPT TO MOVE STRETCHER WITHOUT UNHOOKING.
(9) When patient is strapped in stretcher, signal helo to lower cable, and signal hoist operator when ready to hoist. Steady stretcher to prevent swinging or turning.
(10) If trail line is attached to basket or stretcher use to steady (keep feet clear of line).