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Establishing a Landing Zone

This is the "How To" on requesting Life Flight and establishing a Landing Zone (LZ).

First, call our dispatch at 713-704-4357(HELP).

  • Please give the dispatcher the physical location (street and cross street), a Key Map location (if known), and a GPS location if you have the capability to do so.
  • Ensure the location you give is the location of the LZ and not of the scene itself, if the LZ is away from the scene.

Communication

  • We operate both 800 MHz & VHF/UHF FM radios capable of communicating on MA1/2, ITAC, HAHERN, 1960 Fire/Ground, Fire/Statewide Mutual Aid, Inner City, HFD 7, and many others.
  • The 800 MHz radio is outstanding for over-the horizon capability by using repeaters to extend its range. We use Harris County MA 1, MA 2, Galveston County, I-TAC 2, I-TAC 3, and also have Alvin Primary.

Picking a LZ

  • Find an area that is close to the scene. Landing the aircraft at a remote LZ and having EMS meet us with the patient is an alternative if the scene area is too densely populated, or has no suitable landing sites.
  • We require a 60' X 60' area clear of obstacles during the day and a 100' X 100' area clear of obstacles at night. The landing surface itself does not have to be this size, as long as the site provides obstacle clearance as listed above.
  • A hard landing surface is preferred over a field, or unimproved surface. The hard surface allows the patient stretcher to be rolled with ease and only requires the Life Flight crew to move the patient. A field, or unimproved surface usually requires 4 people to move the patient and can be landing aircraft due to flying debris.
  • The LZ should be marked with 4 markers. An up wind marker to display the wind direction is helpful, but not required. The markers could be cones for day, or any means of lighted markers at night. In the absence of markers, vehicles can be used to mark the area by simply blocking off the limits of the LZ.

The Life Flight Crew will attempt ground contact on the requested frequency several minutes away from the LZ. Please provide as much information on the LZ and patient as you can.

  • We need to know where you intend to land us. Example: a church parking lot, or the intersection of Clay Road and Highway 6. Be specific and give landmarks if available.
  • Obstacle information in and around the LZ such as wires, trees, street signs, and unlit antennas is key to the safe landing of the helicopter.
  • If the LZ has sloping terrain, please inform the pilot prior to landing.
  • Do not choose an area close to windows, carports, awnings, construction sites, or trash piles. The wind created from the rotor blades can send a objects through the air like a projectiles.

While the aircraft is en route:

  • Walk the LZ you selected and pick up loose debris and look up from several different angles for wires that were previously unseen, or trees that overhang the LZ.
  • If you are using road flares to mark the LZ, have someone standing by to put out potential fires caused by flares that get blown away.
  • If you choose to charge a hose, be sure your personnel know to move away from the landing area and position themselves behind vehicles during landing.
  • Turn on your overhead lights to aid the crew in identifying your LZ. During night landings, the pilot may ask for the overheads to be turned off to prevent disorientation.

Landing the Helicopter

  • Contact the pilot once you have the aircraft in sight. If the pilot cannot identify your location, give him directions in the form of turn command, or using prominent features, such as a water tower, or antenna.
  • Ensure that the LZ is clear of vehicles, equipment, and personnel. It is not necessary to give additional signals to the aircraft once they have you in sight. Personnel doing hand and arm signals are putting themselves at risk of injury from flying debris.
  • Close all doors, trunks, and secure loose equipment.

After landing:

  • Do not approach the aircraft while it is running and no personnel should attempt to pass by the aircraft by vehicle, or on foot until the aircraft is shut down and the pilot gives permission.
  • Any hazards that were noted during the landing such as loose signs, debris, etc. should be secured prior to the aircraft departing.
  • Continue to maintain LZ security while the helicopter is on the ground. Turning rotor blades and tail rotor blades can cause serious injury or death. Damage to the helicopter could prevent the aircraft from departing and delay patient care.
  • Please maintain the LZ integrity until the aircraft is clear of the landing site in case of emergency that may require the pilot to land back to the LZ without delay.