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Special Operations

g. Night LZs

1. There are several ways to light a night LZ:

(a) Mark the touchdown area with five lights

or road flares, one in each corner and one indicating

the direction of the wind. See FIG 10−2−7.

FIG 10−2−7

Recommended Lighting for 

Landing Zone Operations at Night


Road flares are an intense source of ignition and may be

unsuitable or dangerous in certain conditions. In any case,

they must be closely managed and firefighting equipment

should be present when used. Other light sources are

preferred, if available.

(b) If chemical light sticks may be used, care

should be taken to assure they are adequately secured

against being dislodged by the helicopter’s rotor


(c) Another method of marking a LZ uses four

emergency vehicles with their low beam headlights

aimed toward the intended landing area.

(d) A third method for marking a LZ uses two

vehicles. Have the vehicles direct their headlight

beams into the wind, crossing at the center of the LZ.

(If fire/rescue personnel are available, the reflective

stripes on their bunker gear will assist the pilot


2. At night, spotlights, flood lights and hand

lights used to define the LZ are not to be pointed at the

helicopter. However, they are helpful when pointed

toward utility poles, trees or other hazards to the

landing aircraft. White lights such as spotlights,

flashbulbs and hi−beam headlights ruin the pilot’s

night vision and temporarily blind him. Red lights,

however, are very helpful in finding accident

locations and do not affect the pilot’s night vision as


3. As in Day LZ operations, ensure radio contact

is accomplished between ground and air, if possible.

h. Ground Guide

1. When the helicopter is in sight, one person

should assist the LZ Coordinator by guiding the

helicopter into a safe landing area. In selecting an LZ

Coordinator, recognize that medical personnel

usually are very busy with the patient at this time. It

is recommended that the LZ Coordinator be someone

other than a medical responder, if possible. Eye

protection should be worn. The ground guide should

stand with his/her back to the wind and his/her arms

raised over his/her head (flashlights in each hand for

night operations.)

2. The pilot will confirm the LZ sighting by

radio. If possible, once the pilot has identified the LZ,

the ground guide should move out of the LZ.

3. As the helicopter turns into the wind and

begins a descent, the LZ coordinator should provide

assistance by means of radio contact, or utilize the

“unsafe signal” to wave off the helicopter if the LZ is

not safe (see FIG 10−2−8). The LZ Coordinator

should be far enough from the touchdown area that

he/she can still maintain visual contact with the pilot.

i. Assisting the Crew

1. After the helicopter has landed, do not

approach the helicopter. The crew will approach you.

2. Be prepared to assist the crew by providing

security for the helicopter. If asked to provide

security, allow no one but the crew to approach the


3. Once the patient is prepared and ready to load,

allow the crew to open the doors to the helicopter and

guide the loading of the patient.

4. When approaching or departing the helicop-

ter, always be aware of the tail rotor and always

follow the directions of the crew. Working around a

running helicopter can be potentially dangerous.  The

environment is very noisy and, with exhaust gases

and rotor wash, often windy. In scene operations, the

surface may be uneven, soft, or slippery which can

lead to tripping. Be very careful of your footing in this