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Advice for helicopter support in emergencies

The Mission Request Vade Mecum has been developed to help emergency frontline personnel to safely deal with helicopters at an incident, including police officers, firefighters, ambulances, and all other personnel who may be involved in requesting and handling a helicopter mission, writes Captain Stefano Burigana.


The advice has been written with all types of emergency in mind, including when requesting helicopter assistance at the site of road traffic collisions

The tool, which outlines a set of best practice behaviours for non-aeronautical personnel, was developed on the initiative of Captain Franco Pescali of the Italian Police helicopter group, and was further developed by the European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST) Specialist Team Ops and SMS.

This comprehensive document explains what data needs to be passed to the helicopter pilot and describes how to set up the landing area. Together with the emergency dispatch centre, users can go through the ROMA checklist in order to quickly check all the information and safety measures required. Finally, a ready-to-use Mission Request presentation can be tailored by the training organisation in order to spread operational and safety knowledge to frontline personnel.

We really believe that the tool is a very useful set of safety and operative information to be divulgated to the maximum extent in order to increase the safety in the emergency situations that require the use of helicopters.

Typical situations include ambulance medical personnel at a road traffic incident requesting an emergency medical helicopter; police personnel requiring a police support helicopter; firefighters at a wildland fire co-ordinating operations with firefighting helicopters; support personnel in search and rescue operations; civil protection personnel in need of a rescue helicopter or during an evacuation mission; and civil forces dealing with military helicopter interventions.


The Mission Request Vade Mecum, which was developed in memory of the 2001 air disaster at Linate in Milan, Italy, also advises emergency centre despatch personnel on the various aspects of such operations involving helicopter support

The document provides guidance on the hazards related to a helicopter intervention and what kind of information the dispatch centre may request. It looks at the type of information that will be useful to the pilot, how to prepare the landing area and the signals to give the helicopter when landing. It also advises emergency centre dispatch personnel on various aspects of such operations, and gives information to pilots on the type of information that will be available to them before and during a mission.

For more information, click here  

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