LifeFlight Safety | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

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Our equipment meets or exceeds FAA rules. 

Helicopter Safety

The pilot and/or flight crew controls activity around the aircraft. Always follow these rules:

  • Everyone must stay 100 feet from the aircraft.
  • Approach and depart the aircraft from the front only.
  • Do not enter or leave the rotor-arc when the helicopter is starting up.
  • No running or smoking within 50 feet of the aircraft.
  • All items within 100 feet must be secured.
  • No one is allowed into the landing zone until the aircraft is in steady flight.

Landing Zone Criteria

  • Minimum size: 100 ft. x 100 ft.
  • Clear of debris
  • Level, firm terrain with no obstructions
  • No power lines or overhead obstructions nearby
  • No vehicles or people within the zone

Landing Zone Officers

  • Assume command and secure landing zone.
  • Only one person can be in radio contact with the aircraft.
  • LifeFlight does not use 10 codes.
  • Direct pilot using directions such as north, south, east or west. Don't use road names.
  • Don't stand in the landing zone.

Night Operations

  • Don't shine lights at the helicopter.
  • Don't use cones, flares or tape to mark the site.
  • Emergency vehicles may be parked so their headlights intersect the landing site. They can also be parked beneath wires to mark them.
  • Lights may be placed onto poles showing wires between them.

Landing Zones

Our first priority is safety. Safety for our crew, patients and those we are responding to. Please help us by always keeping safety as a priority when calling upon LifeFlight. The following information will help you establish a safe landing zone for LifeFlight.

Ground Safety

  • Restrict access to the landing zone area and helicopter.
  • Do not approach the helicopter unless escorted by flight crew or with permission of pilot.
  • Allow the LifeFlight team to direct loading and unloading of equipment and patients at all times.
  • Secure all loose items such as hats, sheets, mattresses and supplies that could get caught in the rotor wash. Don't chase items blown towards the helicopter.
  • Protect your eyes from blowing debris during landing and take off. Wear hearing protection while near a running helicopter.
  • Do not open and close doors. The LifeFlight crew will operate all doors.
  • No smoking around the helicopter
  • LifeFlight crew will assign one ground contact person to protect the tail rotor. This person will be placed at the front of the aircraft a minimum of 50 feet away between the 3 and 9 o'clock positions in the pilot's view.

Communication with LifeFlight

  • One pre-hospital care provider or hospital staff member would communicate directly with the LifeFlight crew member. Provide radio frequency and call sign of unit coordinating landing zone.
  • Provide LifeFlight with information that could help them identify the landing zone/accident location (i.e. direction and distance from town, major landmarks or highways). Provide GPS coordinates if available.
  • The preferred frequency is Mutual Aid.
  • At night, communicate how the landing zone is lit.
  • Communicate wind direction and location of potential obstructions/hazards (i.e. wires, trees or poles).
  • Identify any hazardous materials (petroleum, chemicals or nuclear) on scene.
  • The LifeFlight pilot will make a low reconnaissance pass before landing. Be prepared to point out landing and take off hazards and answer the pilot's questions.