Preparing the Landing Zone
The MedLink AIR Communications Center has information on the location of most hospitals' approved landing areas. Follow your hospital or agency's policies for personnel or equipment needed for helicopter landings and departures. All landing areas must be lighted after dark. If permanent helipad lighting is not installed, night landing zones should be lighted with other sources. Emergency vehicles with rotating beacons aid in locating the landing area at night. To land at a site other than an approved helipad, ground personnel should be available to assist in selecting and securing a landing area.
A safe landing zone can be prepared by using the following guidelines:
- A minimum of 100' x 100' (the bigger, the better).
- Firm, level area clear of debris or loose soil or snow.
- Free of overhead obstructions, wires or trees.
- Indicate wind direction when possible.
- Assign one person to protect the tail rotor. Position the individual a minimum of 50 feet behind the tail rotor.
- Do not allow artificial light to be directed at the aircraft while landing or taking off (i.e. photo flash, flood lights, television camera lights, etc.). If you are planning to construct a permanent helipad, MedLink AIR pilots will be glad to assist you in obtaining appropriate information, directions or guidelines.
Helicopters should always be approached with caution. Please follow these safety tips:
- Do not approach the helicopter unless escorted by flight crew or with permission of pilot.
- Always approach the helicopter from the front, within full view of the pilot, never from the rear.
- Watch for inclines at landing zones.
- Do not bring the patient to the helicopter; the medical team will come to you.
- Keep all persons back at least 100 feet from the landing area.
- All stretchers should have pads, sheets and IV poles removed or secured; they can be blown off and create a significant safety hazard.
- The flight team directs the loading and unloading of the patient and equipment, including operation of all aircraft doors.
- No smoking or running.
- Keep hats and other loose objects at least 100 feet away from the aircraft.
- Protect yourself and patients from rotor wash; rotors generate winds of up to 120 mph.
- Use eye protection and hearing protection, if available.
- It is normal for the medical team to exit the aircraft before the blades have stopped turning; do not take this as a signal to approach the helicopter.
The helicopter engines and rotors may or may not be shut down upon landing, depending on such factors as location, patient stability and readiness for transport. It is especially important that landing zone security be maintained while the rotors are turning. Personnel should not approach to assist with patient loading unless specifically requested to do so by the medical team.
Landing Zone Communications
MedLink AIR is equipped with aircraft radios to communicate with air traffic control, regional hospitals and prehospital units and dispatch centers as well as the MedLink AIR Communications Center. The flight team can talk to requesting agencies in flight and the pilot will talk with personnel at the landing site to obtain critical information to ensure safe landing and departure. To enhance communication with MedLink AIR, the following steps should be taken:
- Designate a ground unit to communicate with the aircraft.
- Disable the channel guard or PL.
- Utilize vehicle radios when possible, not portables.
- Remain alert for the appearance of the aircraft and direct the pilot to the scene.
- The preferred frequencies by state are:
- Wisconsin - Marc 2
- Iowa - Mutual Aid
- Minnesota - Minsef
When establishing communication with the helicopter, give a brief update of the situation such as changes in the landing zone—
describe all potential hazards.
View our Landing Zone safety poster