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billyruffn 05-28-2013 10:53 PM

Crew memo for helo evacuation
I've been working on my operations manual and have revised a memo to the crew on how we should prepare for a helo evacuation of a crew member. I adapted it from something I picked up somewhere...if I could remember where I would gladly credit the author. I've adapted it for my boat.

I'd be interested if there's anyone who has actually been through this process that could comment on the memo with the hopes of improving it.

Here's the text as it stands now:


Helicopter Safety Briefing
(Med-Evacuation Hoisting Operation)

During the helicopter hover over the boat the downdraft will be at or above velocity of gale force winds. If evacuation is at night, avoid use of bright lights and do not shine any light in the direction of the helicopter. If during hours of darkness, deck running lights should be on, and spreader lights should be on. Anchor light on mast head may help helicopter crew to avoid the mast, but ask them if they need the anchor light on. Advise helicopter crew that mast height above the water is 77 feet and that the boat has dual backstays.

Prepare the Boat
• All crew in PFDs
• Crew stations: one on helm; one on VHF (if helicopter engine noise interferes, go below to nav. station and have someone relay messages to the helm); one look out observing helicopter movement and any signals from helicopter crew.
• Engine on and motoring.
• Lower and secure sails with sail ties
• Secure all gear on deck and MoB gear to sustain gale force down draft (flying debris can injure crew)
• Secure wind generator
• Secure boom to starboard – rig it out with preventer to clear area on stern
• Preferred hoist area is probably port side stern, but helicopter crew will advise

Secure the Patient
• Organize Patient’s paperwork and pack in small soft bag. Secure bag to the liter or basket between the Patient’s legs. Contents of the bag: Passport / ID, medical insurance card, credit cards and other personal items, the Patients medical history (including any Rx meds regularly taken), contact details for next of kin, and the log of first aid treatment including list of any medications administered on board.
• Patient should have PFD on (use life preserver vs inflatable PDF if injury permits)
• Advise patient of what’s going down and relay any instructions from the helicopter crew
• If liter is used: Patient will be strapped in. Strap around chest area should go under arms and over chest so arms are free. All other straps around patient’s body.
• If basket is used: Patient should sit in the basket with back to one end and must keep arms and legs inside the basket frame until the basket is inside the helicopter
• Person being hoisted should be free of any entanglements

Boat Handling During Evacuation
• When helicopter arrives in the area, change course to put wind approximately 30 degrees off the port bow
• When steadied up on course and satisfied that there are no hazards ahead, put the radar to standby (no radiation). Radar may be used again once helicopter has departed the area
• Establish communications with helicopter crew
• Advise helicopter crew of any requirement to change course or if rotor wash is interfering with boat handling

What to Expect from the Helicopter
• Helicopter will provide all equipment required for the operation
• First action may be to deliver an orange steadying line with weighted bag attached. Until hoist operation is completed one member of boat’s crew must tend this line to keep it from fouling. DO NOT tie the line to the boat.
• Rescue device should be guided to the boat’s deck using the guiding line.
• On each approach, allow the rescue device to touch the boat to discharge any static electric charge before it is touched by the crew.
• If the rescue device must be moved to enable the Patient to enter, unhook it from the hoist cable. Do not move the rescue device from the deck area while attached to the hoist cable. Once the device is disconnected, the helicopter may move off to one side until the Patient is ready to hoist.


Hoisting the Patient
• Upon signal from the boat, the helicopter will move back over the boat and lower the hook. Allow the hook to touch the boat deck to discharge static electricity.
• Fasten the hook to the rescue device using the large part of the hook.
• When all is ready have deck crew give a “thumbs up” to the helicopter crew, ensuring the steadying line is tended and free. Steadying line should be used to reduce sway/swinging of the liter/basket.
• Once the rescue is in the helicopter, the helicopter crew will probably drop the steadying line. Retrieve it quickly to prevent it fouling the boat’s propeller.

MarkofSeaLife 05-28-2013 11:10 PM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
1 Attachment(s)
Pretty in depth stuff.

Well done.

I suppose you will have this and others similar in a plastic sheet so it can be read if the time comes?

Is it part of a full emergency book?

brokesailor 05-29-2013 04:23 AM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
I thought I read that in a Hal Roth Book. "Storm Tactics" or something along that. Mark I'm glad to see you are still around! St Martin?

scratchee 05-29-2013 06:54 AM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
It might help to tell the helo crew the wind direction and speed before they arrive over the boat.

MarkofSeaLife 05-29-2013 06:57 AM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by brokesailor (Post 1036840)
Mark I'm glad to see you are still around! St Martin?

Nah, lobbed into Grenada last Friday and here for the whole,Hurricane season waiting for my budget to catch up!
It ain't not Key West! But I am going to get involved in as much stuff as I can to keep occupied... Even doing the morning VHF net once a week! (I must be getting old and cranky!)

See you soon! :)

Barquito 05-29-2013 12:04 PM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
I wonder if you could get some advice from the CG (or whatever agency is in your area).

johnnyquest37 05-29-2013 02:17 PM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
Not sure how large your boat is, but I have doubts that the USCG is going to attempt a hoist from the deck of sailboat pitching in the waves. More likely, they'll lower a rescue swimmer (with or without a basket) into the water near the boat. The swimmer will help get the victim to the hoist.

I've done helo casualty evacuation from the ground, but not from the sea.

dabnis 05-29-2013 04:32 PM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
I was lifted out of a heavily forested very steep, rugged terrain in a litter. What I didn't expect was the litter spinning around very fast, kind of dis-orienting and a bit scary. It might help to advise the injured person that the litter may spin a bit. However as they are strapped in they are not going anywhere, but it may ease the apprehension somewhat.

Paul T

billyruffn 05-29-2013 09:49 PM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation

Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife (Post 1036751)
Is it part of a full emergency book?

It's in a binder with several other things, e.g. procedures for fire, flooding, MoB, abandon ship, etc. I ask that the crew read the book before we depart. We'll go over some of these things together as a crew, but I look to each individual to become familiar with how we should react to each type of emergency.

Fortunately, we've never had to follow any of these emergency procedures.....except once, when I pulled up the sole and found the bilge full of water. For a moment I panicked, then I did step 1, "Taste the water". It was fresh water so all was well.

boatpoker 05-30-2013 06:11 AM

Re: Crew memo for helo evacuation
Not a chance that a line will be dropped from a helicopter to be held by someone on deck. Not a chance anyone is going to be lifted from the deck of a pitching heaving sailboat. This would be courting suicide for everyone onboard both vehicles. Back to the drawing board.

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