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More Power

Faster, more powerful helicopters de- liver safer lift off and better control in rough weather, satellite systems guide air- craft to a search area of 55-square yards rather than two-square miles, and spe- cially trained rescue swimmers equipped with field medical knowledge deploy on hoists that can drop 290 feet in 50 sec- onds, once hazard assessments at the scene are made. These improvements, along with standardized commentary that results in clear communication between crew members, contribute to more suc- cessful rescues and safer overall operation for those who put their lives on the line each day.

Aside from rescues in the difficult con- ditions of the North Sea, Johnson’s group is routinely called to in-shore rescues on sea side cliffs or in the sheer cliffs of mountain ranges of the Scottish highlands. Recently more of the rescues he’s been deployed to have been from aircraft go- ing down into the sea because of the growing amount of aviation traffic to and from the Norwegian and British coasts out to the more than 570 operating oil rigs. Johnson is a 32-year search and rescue veteran and was with one of the first crews on the scene December 21, 1988 at the Pan Am Flight 103 air disaster over Lockerbie in southern Scotland. “We want to spend the minimum amount of time out and back so we can get the casualties to the hospital as soon as possible,” says Johnson, whose team uses Sikorsky S-92s and Agusta AW- 139s. “Extra power from our vehicle helps tremendously in our situation be- cause we may go out to pick up someone in the mountains who’s fallen and most likely by the time we get there, they’re not only suffering from the injuries from the fall but from hypothermia as well. Time is of the essence.”

AC Power for Equipment

Getting casualties out of harm’s way faster while reducing risk and exposure is one advantage of more powerful aircraft, but according to Brad Matheson, Presi- dent of Priority 1 Air Rescue headquar- tered in Phoenix, Arizona, there are many others. As an example, Matheson sites the availability of AC power in operating vital rescue equipment as a significant • August 2009


step forward in safety for air crews. “Many aircraft have ample AC power and this can greatly increase performance of mission-critical equipment,” says Math- eson. “The AC power option allows you to draw more performance from the hoist resulting in smoother, more consistent, and faster operation for the SAR mission.”

Translating Drum Hoists

While AC power and performance is a major benefit for rescue crews, Matheson, who has been the training manager for Pri- ority 1 Air Rescue for 11 years, sees the invention of the translating drum hoist as a major advantage in search and rescue.

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