Section V-3

Helicopter Operations


Purpose:  To establish guidelines to be used when the emergency situation dictates the need for emergency medevac from a helicopter.


Scope:   Guidelines pertain to all Three Star Fire Department that may become involved in helicopter operations.  Coordination with Tipton County Central Dispatch, Tipton County Ambulance service, and The Hospital Wing is imperative.



The Three Star Fire Department periodically operates in conjunction with helicopters operated by other emergency service providers.  Typically this is for medevac purposes in conjunction with The Hospital Wing operating out of Memphis, but may involve any helicopter operating in vicinity and able to render assistance.  While helicopters can provide a significant advantage in both medevac and search operations, there are many significant dangers surrounding helicopter operations.

Request for Medevac

The Incident Commander can request “The Wing” from Memphis Medical Center via Central Dispatch or the Tipton County Ambulance service. While not inclusive, any one of the following situations may necessitate a Medevac situation:


·        Penetrating trauma to abdomen, pelvis, chest, neck or head

·        Spinal cord or spinal column injury, or any injury producing paralysis of an extremity

·        Partial or total amputation of an extremity

·        Two or more long bone fractures or a major pelvic fracture

·        Crushing injury to the abdomen, chest or head

·        Major burns of large surface area; burns involving face, hands, feet, or perineum; burns with respiratory involvement; major electrical burns; chemical burns

·        When vitals are below prescribed limits as dictated by ambulance service

·        Vehicle rollover with unrestrained passengers

·        Pedestrian struck by vehicle greater than 10 MPH

·        Falls greater than 15 feet

·        Motorcycle victims


An accurate location, particularly any large roadways or intersections nearby must be provided.  Major landmarks and potential hazards or obstructions should be noted.  The dispatchers need this information to plot out the bearing and distance to the chosen landing zone.


The Incident Command, if manpower allows, shall assign a Landing Zone Officer to coordinate the landing.  This person shall switch and talk to the helicopter on the proper frequency.


The Incident Commander will be notified what frequency the helicopter is requesting to operate.  Normal operating frequencies are:  155.340 Mhz; 155.280 Mhz; 155.205 Mhz. (Section III-14 for complete list of Frequencies)

Landing Zone

When detailed to create a landing zone (or simply “LZ”), a level area 100’ x 100’ square (120” x 120’ at night) must be marked-out by firefighters holding a strobe light, marking each of the four corners.  The area should have a maximum slope of l5 to 30 degrees, and must be free and clear of wires, trees, buildings, poles, emergency vehicles, debris, and other obstacles.  It is essential to remember that signs, poles, and wires are difficult or impossible to see from the air.  If these obstacles are present at or near the LZ, the pilot must be informed of this prior to attempting a landing.  When using a highway as an LZ, all traffic must be stopped at least l50’ feet away in both directions.  Helicopters typically land into the wind or with no more than a 90 degree cross wind.  Vertical take-offs and landings are not routinely attempted.  The pilot typically flies at a slight angle.

Safety Guidelines

All Three Star Fire Department personnel operating in and around the LZ must wear PPE, including helmets, eye protection, and turnouts as appropriate.  Due to the strong rotor wash, it is essential that any hats or loose articles of clothing be removed and secured.  Helmet chinstraps must be tightly secured.  Smoking is never permitted within l00 feet of a helicopter, nor is running permitted within the LZ.

Never go near the tail rotor of a helicopter or approach one from the rear.  Always wait for a signal from the pilot before approaching a helicopter. Due to rotor blade flexibility, always approach helicopters from the front in a crouched stance.  Should a helicopter be forced to land on a slope or grade, approach it from the downhill side.  Do not attempt to open or close the aircraft doors - the specially trained helicopter crew will do it themselves.

The Incident Commander will be notified what frequency the helicopter is requesting to operate.  Normal operating frequencies are:  155.340 Mhz; 155.280 Mhz; 155.205 Mhz.