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Enter the Hoist


One of the more complex and higher risk operations that Air Rescue performs is hoisting patients from environments that are not reachable by vehicle. The two environments that most often require the use of the hoist are over water or the 


In the coastal environment, patients may be hoisted directly out of the water or off a          vessel poses a different challenge and may require a different procedure. For example,  may require the use of a Stokes basket, while a patient clinging to a capsized boat in high seas may require a rescue swimmer and a rescue strop.


Rotorcraft Pro had the opportunity to participate in a training exercise in which a simulated patient was hoisted from one of the       so the crews from both units (helicopter and boat) regularly train together.


Prior to launch, the crew will be communicating with dispatch or personnel on scene (if there are any) to determine what equipment will be needed. The three most common pieces of rescue equipment that may be used are a Stokes basket,       one can accommodate different types of injuries and scenarios.


  the exact location of the scene, patient status, sea state, wind speed/direction, and any other elements that may impact the operation. Once over the scene, the helicopter will orbit and evaluate the situation and develop a plan that includes direction of approach, hoisting height, what equipment to use, and whether or not to send crew down on the hoist.


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“The greatest concern during a hoist operation is getting the cable tangled in a boat or land-based obstruction,” said pilot Kalynn Hargis, who happens to be  the history of Air Rescue. This scenario becomes exponentially more hazardous if an entanglement occurs on a boat pitching and rolling on high seas. To avoid injuring people or damaging the helicopter, the emergency procedure for this worst-case scenario requires the crew to cut or “punch out” the cable.


One of the most important aspects to consistent and safe hoist ops is discipline. Crews must have the discipline to follow the procedures that keep them focused on two critical components: communications and checklists. Crews must resist the tendency to become complacent since hoisting operations, especially over waterborne vessels, are extremely unforgiving.


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