Sunday, November 26, 2023

EMS Operations - Landing Zones

EMS providers play a crucial role in facilitating helicopter operations and setting up landing zones for patient transport.

Here are key points they need to know:

Landing Zone Criteria:

- The landing zone should be a minimum of 100’x100', suitable for both day and night operations.

- Ensure the site is free of obstacles, hazards, and debris.

- Opt for a firm surface and avoid slopes greater than five degrees whenever possible.

- Soft sand or dirt landing sites should be avoided, but can be wet down as a last resort.

Obstruction Assessment:

- Conduct a thorough survey of the landing site to identify overhead power lines, telephone wires, antennas, buildings, or tall trees.

- Attempt to remove or limit any obstructions from the landing location.

- If obstructions cannot be removed, inform the flight crew, and be prepared to find an alternative location if necessary.

Marking the Landing Zone:

- Mark the landing zone using weighted cones or position emergency vehicles at the corners, with headlights facing inward to form an X.

- Clearly visible markings help pilots identify the designated landing area, especially during low-light conditions.

Weather Considerations:

- Inform the flight crew of wind direction and speed, particularly if strong winds exist.

- Weather conditions can impact helicopter operations, and pilots need this information to make informed decisions.

Safety Buffer:

- Ensure all nonessential personnel, bystanders, and vehicles are at least 200 feet away from the landing zone.

- This safety buffer protects individuals from potential hazards associated with helicopter operations.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

Responders operating near the landing zone should wear appropriate PPE, including helmets with chin straps, ear protection, and face shields or other eye protection.

- Be prepared for high wind and noise associated with helicopter take-offs and landings.


- Maintain effective communication with the flight crew before, during, and after the landing.

- Be prepared to provide updated information about the landing zone, weather conditions, and any changes in the situation.

- By adhering to these guidelines, EMS providers can contribute to the safe and efficient operation of helicopter transports, ensuring the well-being of both the patient and the emergency response team.

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