Safety Briefings for Helicopter Operations

Hank Reimer shares tips for safety for emergency responders while operating in and around helicopters.

Long handled tools are to be carried horizontal at the waist, equipment parallel to the ground and not on the shoulder. When the helicopter is running the main rotor system will look like a disk, positive movement through the outside area of the disk is strongly recommended, that is the area of greatest concern for blade movement that could ruin your day.

If helping with victims or patients, all personnel need to be on the same page in regards to loading - which side, head or feet, first - before nearing the aircraft. All articles need to be secured before entering the rotor wash area, such as blankets, towels and personal effects. Victims need to be secured properly so they don't arrive at the destination with more severe injuries than when they left the scene.

Hills and inclines present another issue when moving towards or away from a helicopter. When moving towards the helicopter one never wants to transition downhill and the opposite is true when moving away. Flat ground helps reduce safety concerns for the folks working around the aircraft. There are many other agency specifics that can be added, but I wanted to touch on general areas to think about when working around helicopters. Local helicopter providers, being government or private, that are used by your agency will provide first responder safety training. 

  • See Hank Reimer Live! Hank will be presenting "Knowing Your Aviation Resources: Limitations and Capabilities" at Firehouse Central in Las Vegas in Aug. 31, 2011.


HANK REIMER has spent the last 10 years assigned to the air operations section of the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic and crew chief. Hank is part of the training cadre where helicopter technical rescue is a major part of the curriculum. He is a member of a federal incident management team and a qualified air operations branch director. Hank teaches inter-agency aviation courses and is a board member of the Helicopter Rescue and Response Association. Hank was a guest on The Buzz on Technical Rescue: L.A. County Air Operations podcast.