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Special Operations

5. The tail rotor poses a special threat to

working around a running helicopter. The tail rotor

turns many times faster than the main rotor, and is

often invisible even at idle engine power. Avoid

walking towards the tail of a helicopter beyond the

end of the cabin, unless specifically directed by the



Helicopters typically have doors on the sides of the cabin,

but many use aft mounted “clamshell” type doors for

loading and unloading patients on litters or stretchers.

When using these doors, it is important to avoid moving any

further aft than necessary to operate the doors and

load/unload the patient. Again, always comply with the

crew’s instructions.

j. General Rules

1. When working around helicopters, always

approach and depart from the front, never from the

rear. Approaching from the rear can increase your risk

of being struck by the tail rotor, which, when at

operating engine speed, is nearly invisible.

2. To prevent injury or damage from the main

rotor, never raise anything over your head.

3. If the helicopter landed on a slope, approach

and depart from the down slope side only.

4. When the helicopter is loaded and ready for

take off, keep the departure path free of vehicles and

spectators. In an emergency, this area is needed to

execute a landing.

k. Hazardous Chemicals and Gases

1. Responding to accidents involving hazardous

materials requires special handling by fire/rescue

units on the ground. Equally important are the

preparations and considerations for helicopter

operations in these areas.

2. Hazardous materials of concern are those

which are toxic, poisonous, flammable, explosive,

irritating, or radioactive in nature. Helicopter

ambulance crews normally don’t carry protective

suits or breathing apparatuses to protect them from

hazardous materials.

3. The helicopter ambulance crew must be told

of hazardous materials on the scene in order to avoid

the contamination of the crew. Patients/victims

contaminated by hazardous materials may require

special precautions in packaging before loading on

the aircraft for the medical crew’s protection, or may

be transported by other means.

4. Hazardous chemicals and gases may be fatal

to the unprotected person if inhaled or absorbed

through the skin.

5. Upon initial radio contact, the helicopter crew

must be made aware of any hazardous gases in the

area. Never assume that the crew has already been

informed. If the aircraft were to fly through the

hazardous gases, the crew could be poisoned and/or

the engines could develop mechanical problems.

6. Poisonous or irritating gases may cling to a

victim’s clothing and go unnoticed until the patient is

loaded and the doors of the helicopter are closed. To

avoid possible compromise of the crew, all of these

patients must be decontaminated prior to loading.

l. Hand Signals

1. If unable to make radio contact with the

HEMS pilot, use the following signals:

FIG 10−2−8

Recommended Landing Zone Ground Signals