Optimal Landing Zone (LZ) Set-up
- 100 x 100 foot area close to the incident scene and free from obstructions is the best selection
- The landing zone should be a flat surface that is firm, free of overhead obstructions and free of any debris that can blow up into the rotor system. The maximum allowable slope is 10 degrees.
- Obstacles such as wires, poles, signs, etc. can be difficult to see from the aircraft. If wires are present at or near the scene, this information must be relayed to the flight crew prior to landing.
- Advise the flight crew on overhead radio contact if there are any obstructions in the area, obstructions at the edge of the LZ, or any obstructions in-line with the departure or approach path.
- If the roadway is too narrow, or numerous trees or other obstacles are present, another area must be selected as an alternate LZ and checked for obstacles and other unsafe conditions. After the on-scene officer-in-charge has evaluated all areas, the best unobstructed landing site must be secured, and the flight crew advised of any unsafe conditions they may encounter during the landing.
NOTE: In determining landing zones, be aware that helicopter take-offs and landings can be done in a vertical manner; however, these landings limit the pilot's visibility of the LZ. Increased power requirements on the helicopter may eliminate land-back areas should an engine malfunction occur making the approach slower, causing extended periods of rotor wash
Additional Landing Zone Tips
The LZ Officer should walk the area on both sides of the LZ and check for hazards. During night operations, walk the LZ with a flashlight that is directed up and down to detect wires in and around the LZ.
- 45 Degree Test- The LZ Officer should stand in the middle of the LZ with one arm extended at a 45 degree angle in front of him/her. Any objects at or above this line are obstacles and need to be All traffic must be stopped in both directions of the roadway, even on multi-lane highways or interstates.
- Do not allow traffic to use the roadway until after the aircraft has departed. Traffic should be stopped at least 200 feet in both directions from the landing zone.
- Do not recommend landing zones that contain loose material such as gravel. The rotor wash will cause stones or gravel to become airborne, striking personnel and/or damaging vehicles.
- Do not use flares or cones to mark the landing zone: they will become airborne during the landing. (Weighted cones/lights that are designed for aircraft operations are generally acceptable.)
- The pilot is the final authority when selecting an LZ. On some occasions, the pilot may not choose to utilize the ground personnel's suggested LZ and choose an alternate LZ. This decision is usually based on information that is unknown to the ground personnel (e.g., wind, aircraft performance limitations, etc).
Approaching the aircraft
Hearing and eye protection shall be utilized at all times when approaching the aircraft.
Personnel should approach the aircraft only when accompanied by an MSP flight crew member.
Response personnel are usually limited to four when loading patients. The Flight medic will provide additional guidance prior to these personnel approaching the aircraft.
Only approach the aircraft from the Safe Zone (see diagram).
Never approach the aircraft from the rear areas due to the hazards existing from the tail rotor.
If it becomes necessary to go from one side of the aircraft to the other, this will be done by walking around the front of the aircraft; however, do not walk under the rotor blades.
Personnel shall not wear hats and loose clothing when approaching the aircraft. Do not lift anything above shoulder height (e.g. IV bags).
If the aircraft has landed on a slope or hill, care must be taken when approaching the aircraft. Approaching from the downhill side is preferred. Uphill side approaches should be avoided, as the main rotor blade is spinning and is lower to the ground on the uphill side of the aircraft. The Flight medic will provide additional guidance in this situation.
Never bring the patient to the aircraft prior to advising the Flight medic of the patient's information. Very high noise levels found in the general proximity of the aircraft make communication and patient turnover impossible.
If debris gets in the eyes and it impairs vision - do not continue to approach or egress from the aircraft - immediately "take a knee" and the Flight medic will provide assistance.
In an emergency situation it may be necessary to render assistance or rescue occupants of the helicopter. In such cases DO NOT APPROACH THE AIRCRAFT UNLESS THE MAIN ROTOR HAS STOPPED! REMAIN CLEAR OF THE REAR AND TAIL ROTOR AT ALL TIMES!
Miscellaneous Safety Tips
Personnel should not attempt to open or close any aircraft doors. If a person is in the aircraft, they should remain inside until the flight crew member opens the door for them, thus preventing damage to the door and greatly reducing the risk of an aircraft door opening inadvertently in-flight.
No vehicles or personnel shall be permitted within 200 feet of the aircraft.
Do not direct spotlights onto the landing area or at the aircraft, but keep vehicle's emergency lights displayed until the aircraft is overhead. Once the LZ has been confirmed and verified by the flight crew, vehicle lighting can be reduced to running lights or parking lights for night vision purposes.