|Helicopters have saved many lives since their introduction as a rescue tool. As well as being used to evacuate people from ships and mountains and rescue people from the sea, they are being utilized by numerous ambulance services all over the US to transport seriously ill or injured people to the hospital.
Although they are an effective life-saving tool, they can also be extremely dangerous if safety precautions are not followed. Should you find yourself in a situation where you or a member of your group is to be rescued by helicopter, the following simple precautions should be taken.
- The pilot will select the best area for the helicopter to land but if there is an obvious clear area that you believe they may wish to use, try to clear it of any obstructions such as loose debris. Assemble everybody to windward of the landing site, as the helicopter will approach into the wind. You must be at least 165 feet away from the landing point.
- It is not obvious where you are, wave some bright clothing or shine a flashlight so that the pilot and crew can see you. While the helicopter lands, stay still, holding on to any loose items of clothing or baggage. If you are on the beach you may find it more comfortable to cover your face because of the downdraft caused by the aircraft, which will stir up the sand.
- Once the helicopter has landed, under no circumstances approach it until you are signaled to do so by the pilot. When you are told to move toward the aircraft, approach in the direction that is indicated by the pilot. This will normally be from the front and to the pilot’s right-hand side. This is so that you remain in the pilot’s sight at all times. Follow any instructions you are given by the crew exactly.
RESCUE BY WINCH
If you are being rescued from a winch, for example, you are being taken off a boat, do not touch the winch lines until they have reached the ground as they carry a static electrical charge until they have been earthed..
SEARCH AND RESCUE
In addition to the ire, police, and ambulance, emergency services, a number of specialist organizations exist in the US that operate search and rescue services in more hostile conditions.
Search and rescue units operate in all areas of the country, providing an emergency service to any one lost or injured in remote wilderness areas such as mountains or forests. These highly trained volunteers work in cooperation with the authorities and they are well-equipped with specialist vehicles, helicopters, and medical resources. On call 24 hours a day, they are contacted through the usual emergency agencies.
Emergencies at sea are dealt with by the US Coastguard and Lifeboat services. In addition to participating in search and rescue operations, these organizations run public education programs, carry out vessel safety checks, and are involved in environmental protection. The United States Coastguard Auxiliary is a nationwide force of more than 35,000 volunteers specially trained to form a vital part of Coastguard.