In an extreme medical situation where helicopter evacuation is the only option, there are some specific procedures that need to be adhered to. It’s a costly undertaking and not without risk to the yacht and crew and so should only be conducted if absolutely necessary.
Helicopters have a limited range to no more than 200nm, most are limited to 150-175nm. Its essential training exercises are conducted and reviewed to understand crew duties and responsibilities.
Communication, Preparation, Positioning and Technique
- Brief crew beforehand of methodology and procedures. When the helicopter arrives, it will be too noisy.
- Discuss procedures with shore-based operations and helicopter crew for advanced coordination and maintain comes by vhf channel 16 and convey medical information of the victim
- Clear the deck of loose items and tie down everything
- Port stern quarter to be cleared of obstructions
- Where gloves to avoid electrical shocks and rope burns
- All crew to wear life jackets and to be clipped with safety lines to the yacht
- Victim to be dressed and ready with medical info attached
- Have bucket ready for the hi-line to be coiled
- The yacht should navigate a straight course, closed hauled to port while the helicopter hovers off to port
- Motor or sail with sufficient speed to maintain steerage with reduced sail
- Rescue is normally from the port side of the yacht a starboard rescue door of the helicopter
- Follow instructions from the helicopter crew
- A hi-line will be dropped. Do not touch it until it earthed and touches the boat or water. Coil it into a bucket, do not attach it or let it get snagged to the yacht
- A winchman will descend to the yacht, follow his instructions precisely
- In rough conditions its advisable to trail astern a tender or liferaft off the yacht with victim and attending crew. Prepare the victim in a stretcher or double strop for evac
- In limited visibility or nigh conditions, use. Hand held red flare or orange smoke as a signal