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Home > Health & Wellness > Helicopter Evacuation Procedures for Medical Emergencies

Helicopter Evacuation Procedures for Medical Emergencies

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