• Avalanche Deployment Program

  • Avalanche Deployment Program

    Training for Avalanche Deployment

    This section outlines the rigid training program that has been initiated to properly train teams to safely operate in and around the aircraft. At the same time, all agencies themselves should maintain an equally rigid training regimen for their rescuers when it comes to search and rescue elements not related to aviation assets.

    Colorado leads the nation in fatalities caused by avalanches. But with the proliferation of cell phones and rapid response by rescuers, avalanche survival is possible.

    Surviving an avalanche is a race against time. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, at 15 minutes about 9 in 10 people buried in an avalanche can survive, but by 30 minutes only 50 percent survive (although there have been long burial outliers that have survived in Colorado).

    What is the Avalanche Deployment Program? The Avalanche Deployment Program is a one-of-a-kind program developed by Flight For Life Colorado, with the primary mission of rapidly inserting an Avalanche Deployment Team to the scene of an avalanche accident. The Team consists of a Snow Safety Technician (aka “Snow Tech”), a dog handler, and an avalanche rescue dog – or in some cases, two Snow Techs with no rescue dog.

    A Relationship That Works. The Avalanche Deployment Program combines the skill, expertise and stamina of SAR team members and dog teams with the rapid insertion of a Flight For Life Colorado helicopter and crew. These combined teams allow for the rapid location and expedited rescue of an injured or ill party and rapid transport to appropriate medical care.

    The Team Players and Their Role in Avalanche Deployment

  • Dog handlers participating in the Avalanche Deployment Program must be avalanche certified with their particular avalanche dog. Certification is through Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado (SARDOC), Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (CRAD), Front Range Rescue Dogs, (FRRD), or a similar testing program approved by the Flight For Life Colorado Avalanche Deployment coordinator.

    Avalanche dog handlers must also be competent in winter travel and survival. They must complete their helicopter safety training including;

    • The annual Avalanche Deployment pre-season training and
    • Documentation of their monthly training on their Avalanche Deployment card. They must carry and display this card any time they are deployed.

    Duties of the dog handler include management and handling of the avalanche dog in-flight and on scene and assistance in all phases of an avalanche search and rescue. Duties also include loading equipment into and out of the aircraft, operating of the aircraft doors, entering and exiting the aircraft in accordance with Flight For Life Colorado guidelines, and operating the aircraft radios.

    Snow Techs must be at least Level 2 certified in avalanche rescue and only the most senior and competent individuals in this category should go into the scene on an actual Avalanche Deployment.

    Like avalanche dog handlers, Snow Techs must also be competent with snow safety issues and in winter travel/survival. They must complete their helicopter safety training including the annual Avalanche Deployment pre-season training and document their monthly training on their Avalanche Deployment card. They must carry and display this card any time they are deployed.

    Snow Techs are responsible for determining snow conditions at the scene, the safety of the scene, conducting avalanche beacon and RECCO searches, and caring for others on the scene. Their duties also include loading equipment and the rescue dog into/out of the aircraft, entering and exiting the aircraft in accordance with Flight For Life Colorado guidelines, and operating the aircraft doors and radios.

    The avalanche rescue dogs, certified in avalanche recovery, are the heart of the Avalanche Deployment Program. They must be avalanche certified with their particular dog handler, through SARDOC, CRAD, FRRD or a similar testing program approved by the Flight For Life Colorado Avalanche Deployment coordinator.

    Each dog must be certified with each particular handler. Many of the ski patrol dogs have multiple handlers, so the dogs must pass the certification tests with each handler in order for that particular team (1 dog + each handler) to certify.

    Avalanche dog handlers must bring their dogs to the annual Avalanche Deployment preseason training and attempt to expose and familiarize the dogs to the turning rotors, cold, wind, and noise.

    The roles, responsibilities and expectations of an Avalanche Deployment Team – especially the first team in – have evolved in recent years to better match the needs of an expanding avalanche rescue operation. The first Avalanche Deployment Team is literally the eyes and ears of the Incident Commander. The team’s initial actions or inactions will set the tone for the operation. How well the team assesses the situation, identifies the problems, formulates a plan, and communicates all this back to the command post will have a direct impact on the rest of the response.

    In addition to the traditional roles of the dog handler (searcher and hazard evaluator) and Snow Tech (hazard evaluator and searcher), their roles also include site leader, witness interviewer, operation planner, and medical provider. In addition to assessing the hazard and determining go/no-go for the rescue, additional key responsibilities for the first Avalanche Deployment Team include scene size-up, formulating search strategies and tactics, communicating needs and actions, deciding to resuscitate or not resuscitate a victim, and caring for themselves and patients in austere settings.

    The expectations are that the most competent rescuers participate in the Avalanche Deployment Program. They include skilled and highly experienced ski patrollers and mountain rescuers who can work in harsh environments, assess dangers, organize and conduct initial rescue efforts, care for patients, extricate themselves from hazardous terrain, and communicate plans and actions well.

  • Avalanche Deployment: Three Phases

    There are three key phases to the deployment aspect of an Avalanche Deployment response: pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight. In all three phases, it is critical that Avalanche Deployment members maintain situational awareness, knowing what is going on around them at all times throughout the operation.

  • The pre-flight phase includes a discussion with the Flight For Life Colorado medical crewmembers before the first Avalanche Deployment Team loads its gear and closes the helicopter doors. The Avalanche Deployment Team and crewmembers should quickly share information and brief one another about the rescue situation and threats. Identifying threats improves preparedness. Threats are those events and concerns (e.g. weather, darkness, avalanche danger, remoteness, number of victims, uncertainties, etc.) that increase operational complexity requiring additional effort to maintain safety.

    Once the Avalanche Deployment Team has loaded and the doors are closed, the team and pilot work together and share information and brief one another on the situation and threats. While in route, the first Avalanche Deployment Team identifies and assesses an overland route, hazards along the way, and access to and confirmation of the accident site’s location.

    While there is urgency to getting rescuers on the ground, this urgency must be balanced with the unique intelligence-gathering capabilities of being airborne. The aircraft is a valuable airborne resource to assess immediate hazards, size-up the scene (dimensions of the avalanche, number and size of debris areas, verify tracks in and out; search for obvious clues), formulate an initial search and rescue plan, and communicate this information back to the command post before getting dropped off.

    This aerial assessment also gives the pilot time to circle the scene to better identify and familiarize himself or herself with wind conditions, power level needs, and approaches to the LZ. The team should work with the pilot to select an appropriate LZ and backup LZ, and keep an eye out for ground hazards such as towers, wires, and trees.

    The first Avalanche Deployment Team must be careful to not leave the aircraft until they and the pilot know where they are being dropped off, have formulated a plan, and have communicated with the Incident Command leadership.

    Subsequent Avalanche Deployment Teams will have a lighter workload compared to the first team. Still, follow-up teams must continue to work with the Flight For Life Colorado medical crewmembers and pilot to confirm and verify plans, and continue to be alert to missed or changing conditions. In some situations where the search and rescue problem is simple (such as a small avalanche and good information about the situation), the follow-up teams may fly directly to the Scene LZ. In other situations where the problem is complicated or complex (a large avalanche, multiple debris areas, unsure of location, unknown number of victims, changing light conditions – flat light verse bright sun, etc.), an additional few minutes assessing the scene from the air may provide subsequent teams with information and clues that reduce uncertainties.

    The post-flight phase starts once the helicopter has dropped off the first Avalanche Deployment Team and flown away. The first team in must attempt to establish communications with the command post before doing anything else. If no direct communications with the command post is possible, the team must communicate this to the pilot, and use the pilot as a relay until a permanent ground-based radio relay can be established (In complex rescues involving multiple patients or a very large search area, Flight For Life Colorado may provide a second helicopter dedicated to relaying communication, if needed.)

    With communications established, the Avalanche Deployment Team is ready to work. Generally, the better the plan from the air, the smoother and easier it will be to implement the plan when on the ground. Still, rescuers must be ready for a different situation than anticipated, requiring a significant change to the original plan. Examples may include:

    • the buried person has been found, resulting in an immediate shift to a medical emergency from a search problem;
    • changing weather conditions prevent the helicopter from returning;
    • more dangerous avalanche conditions than anticipated;
    • rescuers learn more people were buried than expected;
    • the helicopter leaves to refuel just before rescuers locate the buried person; and,
    • rescuers are inadvertently dropped off at the wrong avalanche.

    Once the avalanche site effort is complete – whether successful or not – rescuers must exit the field. As mentioned earlier, this may or may not include the helicopter, and rescuers must be prepared to either spend a long time at the scene or self-extricate. As such, rescuers must have experience in self-extrication to exit the field safely.
  • How the Avalanche Deployment Program Works

    Thanks to the proliferation of cell phones, backcountry avalanches are often reported just minutes after they occur. Once an avalanche is reported with a witnessed burial, missing person, or “tracks in and no tracks out,” many things occur that result in an Avalanche Deployment.

  • Once notification of an avalanche burial is made to law enforcement, the local sheriff’s office requests a search and rescue team response and the Flight For Life Colorado Avalanche Deployment Program (Only an AHJ – usually a sheriff or National Park Service official –can activate the Avalanche Deployment Team.). The AHJ contacts the Flight For Life Colorado Communication Center directly to determine Flight For Life Colorado availability.

    It is important to note that every avalanche deployment will be different, and the sequence of events might change depending on the circumstances. Still, the following will often occur when an Avalanche Deployment is requested:

    • The AHJ representative handling the call will convey any pertinent information to assist with the flight to include:
      • position/location of the avalanche (in Degrees – Decimal Minutes if known)
      • ground contact and designated radio frequency at the scene; and,
      • availability of a staging area at the scene for the helicopter and flight crew.
    • The Flight For Life Colorado Communication Center will maintain a daily list of available Avalanche Deployment Teams and will choose the closest or fastest-responding team available at the time of the request. The Flight For Life Colorado Communication Center will be responsible for notifying the Avalanche Deployment Team.

    There are usually three key Landing Zones that are utilized during an Avalanche Deployment. These are:

    1. Ski patrol or rescue team “Rendezvous LZ” – the LZ where Dog Handlers, Dogs, and Snow Techs are picked up by the Flight For Life Colorado helicopter to be taken to the scene
    2. Scene LZ – the location of the accident, or a safe and suitable landing zone somewhere nearby
    3. Incident Command LZ – a landing zone near the rescue Incident Command Post, enabling the Flight For Life Colorado helicopter to launch subsequent Lift Ticket shuttles.

    Occasionally the Rendezvous LZ and Incident Command LZ are the same (e.g. a parking lot at a Ski Area. In the case of any parking lot, officials should cordon off the LZ where there may be a danger of vehicles or individuals entering the LZ, and the Incident Commander should assign an Air Operations Manager and a Parking Tender to help guide the helicopter to a safe landing using radio communications and hand signals.

    Once an Avalanche Deployment is requested, the closest available Flight For Life Colorado helicopter is dispatched to pick up the closest on-call Avalanche Deployment Team at a predetermined Rendezvous LZ designated by the requesting Sheriff or their designee.

    Upon arrival at the Rendezvous LZ:

    • The medical crew will exit the aircraft, taking their primary trauma kit and any other equipment.
    • Both medical crewmembers shall approach the awaiting Avalanche Deployment Team and review their Avalanche Deployment cards, checking for currency while answering any questions.
    • The Avalanche Deployment Team will then proceed to the aircraft and load the dog handler and dog. The Snow Tech will secure their equipment and board the aircraft.
    • At the same time, one medical crewmember exits the LZ and safely stows the medical gear.
    • The other medical crewmember will stand by to see that the Avalanche Deployment Team is loaded correctly and that the doors are closed.
    • Once the team is on board, this medical crewmember will give a “thumbs-up” to the pilot and exit the LZ when the team has loaded. (A more detailed loading description follows, under “Sequence for Avalanche Deployment Loading and Unloading a Snow Tech, Dog, and Dog Handler.”)
    • The flight crew will await the return of the helicopter to the Rendezvous LZ to be up and relocated either to the Incident Command LZ or to the Scene LZ as determined by the flight crew and Incident Commander.

    After flying over the avalanche path and confirming whether or not there is a possibility of victims, the Avalanche Deployment Team may request:

    • An aerial survey of the scene before landing,
    • To be dropped off immediately for a search of the area, or
    • To return to the Incident Command Post to update the Incident Commander.

    If the Snow Tech confirms the scene is safe, the pilot will drop off the Avalanche Deployment Team and return to the Rendezvous LZ where the flight crew is staging or as directed by Incident Command.

    During an Avalanche Deployment, the pilot's responsibilities include:

    • Making a final decision as to whether or not a mission can be safely accomplished. The pilot should comply with all current operating procedures, weather minimums, and other program directives.
    • Flight following with Flight For Life Colorado Communication Center directly, making every effort to update every 10-15 minutes. The pilot may also assist with communication between the scene, Incident Command, and the flight crew as needed. 

    Unlike the annual accreditation of the Lift Ticket program, the Avalanche Deployment Program requires that rescuers submit to an accreditation every four weeks.

    The accreditation is the responsibility of the Avalanche Deployment participants themselves. Each participant is responsible for maintaining a working knowledge of the aircraft by attending briefings with a flight crewmember on the Flight For Life Colorado helipad or a prearranged LZ every four weeks. Each member must demonstrate proficiency with operating the aircraft doors, getting safely into the aircraft, buckling of seatbelts, donning the helmet correctly, and demonstrating correct use of the Carter Box. They also bring ski gear and packs and demonstrate loading and unloading as detailed in the subsequent pages. Snow Techs will often bring along a dog handler and dog and practice together as a team, going through the sequence with gear and the dog.

    On an actual Avalanche Deployment operation, the Flight For Life Colorado crew will bring two portable handheld radios that each have key SAR and other radio frequencies. On their monthly check offs, rescuers should familiarize themselves with these radios.

    In the event of a real deployment, rescuers must confirm what frequency the deployment is on, as the onboard air-to-ground radio may be their only communication.

    Rescuers should also check with the pilot and see if he or she has any other information, such as Incident Command’s (“IC”) call sign, number of possible victims, the contact names for sheriff’s deputies, SAR, etc., or if the IC has not yet been established. It is not possible to over-communicate in these events.

    Finally, it cannot be overemphasized how important this first team is to the whole rescue operation. Being the first rescuers on scene, the Avalanche Deployment Team has numerous responsibilities that can go beyond just putting the dog in position to search. This can include:

    1. Establishing safe LZs and staging areas; and suggesting access routes for ground teams,
    2. Face-to-face interviews with witnesses,
    3. Determining a last seen area,
    4. Searching with beacons, RECCOs and probes,
    5. Assessing the magnitude of the slide and number of victims which may increase the need for additional resources,
    6. Maintaining appropriate communication with IC and other teams, and
    7. Performing initial medical evaluations.

    The Snow Tech must recognize the multiple roles and dynamic situation that he or she may face when entering this type of rescue. Most importantly, key information must be relayed to the IC or appropriate contact personnel until the IC has been established.

    Part of the "team" approach for the first Avalanche Deployment Team flying to a rescue scene includes working with and talking with the pilot to identify flight hazards (wires, towers, trees, etc.) and discussing flight route/location so that the first Avalanche Deployment rescuers can adequately assess hazards, site ingress and egress, scene size-up, select LZs, confirm communications and initial plan with Incident Commander.

    As mentioned earlier, the first Avalanche Deployment Team should use the aircraft as a platform to adequately develop situational awareness, formulate a plan and communicate back to the Incident Commander before being dropped off. 

  • Other Rescue Equipment

  • LG2 in Frisco and LG5 in Durango are equipped with a handheld RECCO detector that can be used by deployment teams to ground-search the avalanche.

    The Flight For Life Colorado medical crew should load the RECCO unit on board the aircraft before departing from their Frisco or Durango helipad. Rescuers should make certain a RECCO is included in their gear prior to loading. Every rescuer should be proficient with the use of a RECCO. The detector should be used anytime a buried person is suspected or known.

    LG2 and LG5 are also equipped with the Barryvox helicopter antenna system (a.k.a. HAS457). The omnidirectional 457 kHz antenna hangs a few meters below the helicopter skids and enables aerial searching for a transceiver signal.

    The external antenna is designed to be used early in an avalanche response when there is a very large avalanche to be searched or when there is significant additional avalanche danger above the debris field to be searched, which would increase risk to ground teams. The antenna is not meant to replace any component of the SAR or Ski Patrol resources; rather it is another tool to be used when appropriate.

    The external antenna is only used when requested specifically by the Incident Commander or their designee. There is no current algorithm that says when it will or will not be deployed - it is entirely up to the IC and the discretion of the flight crew.

    The range is approximately 150 meters in diameter from the antenna under ideal search conditions, and multiple burials can be managed. Nearly perfect flying conditions are required for the long-range antenna to be used.

    Because of Flight For Life Colorado’s closed-door policy, the crew will often deploy the antenna at the staging area. The antenna is normally stored in an external compartment of the helicopter, so the helicopter must land to retrieve it from that location and move it into the crew compartment from where it is deployed. It can be deployed in flight however, so if it is known that an external transceiver search will be requested, the antenna can be set up by the crew on the way to the scene, eliminating the need to land and get the antenna out of the rear compartment.

    The receiver is wired into the intercom system so the pilot and crew can hear a signal, zero in on it, and then drop a marker onto the debris. Ground-rescuers then pinpoint the exact location. 

    Only Flight For Life Colorado crew may be on board during an avalanche transceiver search. The antenna is flown 10-20 feet above the slide debris, so the mission is performed almost entirely in Out of Ground Effect (OGE) hover conditions, at less than 10 knots of airspeed. These conditions require maximum performance of the aircraft, so weather conditions are a limiting factor. Moderate winds with strong gusts, or higher temperatures may make aerial transceiver searches impossible.

    Studies performed in Austria and Switzerland have demonstrated no adverse effect to dog searches performed after the helicopter search. The rotor wash and jet fuel exhaust has no demonstrable effect on the scent on the snow surface. The only limitation with canine operations is that the dog team and helicopter cannot be operating at the same time.

    A valuable piece of equipment aboard Flight For Life Colorado helicopters is a Sked rescue stretcher. It not only transports patients over snow, but is also used for horizontal hoisting by helicopter or vertical hoisting in caves or industrial confined spaces. While very portable, the Sked stretcher becomes rigid when a patient is packaged inside it. The stretcher is rolled for storage, and located in the external storage compartment on the back left of the fuselage when facing forward.
  • Sequence for Avalanche Deployment Loading and Unloading

    The sequence for loading and unloading is the key to a successful Avalanche Deployment operation.

    Key Goals of Loading Procedure
    The goals of loading procedures are as follows:

    • To optimize safety through a well-defined and disciplined loading protocol that should be well-known to all accredited rescuers.
    • To manage the loading operation quickly – an important goal, given the high-risk of an activity that occurs while rotors are turning.
    • To manage the loading of what could become an unpredictable resource - an avalanche rescue dog.
    • To manage this loading efficiently and effectively in an orchestrated manner that is well-understood by the pilot.

    Key Goals of Unloading Procedures
    Like loading, the goals of the unloading procedures are as follows:

    • To optimize safety through a well-defined and disciplined unloading protocol that should be well-known to all accredited rescuers.
    • To manage the unloading operation quickly – an important goal, given the high-risk of an activity that occurs while rotors are turning.
    • To manage the unloading of what could become an unpredictable resource - an avalanche rescue dog.
    • To manage this unloading efficiently and effectively in an orchestrated manner that is well-understood by the pilot.

    Listed below are very detailed loading and unloading procedures for the Avalanche Deployment program. It is important to note that these procedures represent a suggested sequence, and the uniqueness of each operation makes flexibility important, and the loading and unloading sequence might vary from those detailed here.

  • Loading

    1. The Flight For Life Colorado medical crew will meet the Avalanche Deployment Team members away from the helicopter and confirm that the rescuers have valid Avalanche Deployment cards.
    2. The Snow Tech must have control of the dog and remain safely away from the helicopter.
    3. At the same time, the Dog Handler, wearing his/her backpack, picks up one end of the two tightly bound ski-gear packages and drags them to the helicopter placing them directly next to the helicopter’s skid.
    4. Leaving the skis flat on the ground, the Dog Handler then takes off his/her backpack and places it next to the skis.
    5. The Dog Handler boards the helicopter and puts his/her seatbelt and helmet on.
    6. Next, the Dog Handler signals to the Snow Tech to bring the dog to the helicopter.
    7. The Snow Tech, wearing his/her backpack, brings the rescue dog to the aircraft by one of two methods:
      • Holding TWO points of contact - the dog’s collar and vest.
      • Having a leash that connects to 2 points on the dog (an alternative to putting two hands on the dog, since the tech is less likely to stumble and fall trying to walk with two hands on a dog while wearing ski boots. This is easily accomplished by girth-hitching the leash to one and clipping it to the other.)
    8. The Snow Tech then helps to load the dog by lifting the animal into the aircraft (Even if the dog can load the helicopter by jumping in, the tech should always assist the dog so that there is little to no chance the dog may slip or fall and be injured.). The dog should be secured with a leash at all times, including inside the aircraft as well (There is an eye bolt with tether for securing the dog inside the aircraft).

     

    1. The Snow Tech then checks that the gurney belts are open and loads the skis on to the gurney. He/she must never raise the skis or backpacks above the waist.  (IMPORTANT:-the Snow Tech must make certain the seatbelts on the gurney are open before placing the skis in—this will also make it easier when loading the backpacks.)
    2. The Snow Tech places one pack on the leg belt and secures it. The Snow Tech then places the second pack on the chest belt and secures it. This allows the packs to go on top of the skis and makes the whole process easier.
    3. The Snow Tech then closes the forward door, boards the helicopter and puts his/her seatbelt and helmet on.
    4. Finally, the Snow Tech closes the rear door.
    5. Using the Carter Box, the Snow Tech informs the pilot that the doors are closed and secure and that the rescuers are ready to go.
    6. The pilot will then perform the “Heads Up Check” and will take off for the scene.

    It is important to reiterate that these procedures are guidelines, and the uniqueness of each operation means that unloading procedures might vary from those detailed here.

    Unloading

    The following unloading protocol is recommended in the Avalanche Deployment Program:

    1. First, the pilot confirms to the team that it is safe to unload.
    2. The Snow Tech takes his/her helmet off and places it on the hook overhead so that it is out of the way of the dog and handler unloading.
    3. The Snow Tech unfastens his/her seatbelt, reaches behind him/herself and re-clips the seatbelt together so that the next crew or team can easily find it.
    4. The Snow Tech opens the door and exits the aircraft. Once on the ground, the Snow Tech unclips the leg and chest belts and unloads the packs, placing the gear on the ground just forward of the skid.
    5. The Snow Tech unloads the skis/poles and places them flat on the ground next to the packs, being careful to never raise the skis above his/her waist.
    6. The Snow Tech refastens the gurney seat belts so they do not fall in the door jambs or outside.
    7. The Snow Tech takes control of the dog, unloads the dog and goes directly to the skis and packs under the rotor disk (unless instructed otherwise by the pilot). The Snow Tech and dog should remain low on the ground at about the 10 o'clock position (just ahead of the nose of the aircraft on the port side) where the Snow Tech has eye contact with the pilot.
    8. The Snow Tech remains in place at this position in order to maintain eye contact with the pilot.
    9. By this time, the Dog Handler should have already taken off his/her seatbelt and helmet and placed them in appropriate positions. NOTE: If the dog needs to be controlled, then the Snow Tech should perform this step and take control of the animal. The Snow Tech must maintain control of the dog at all times, until the handler leaves the aircraft.
    10. The Dog Handler should make certain that no belts are hanging outside the doors, and then exit the aircraft and close and secure the doors, moving into position on the ground next to the Snow Tech and stay there until the helicopter has safely exited away from the landing zone.
    11. At this point, the pilot will take off and exit the scene and perform a radio check with the ground team once airborne.

    Some SAR situations may involve flying two Snow Techs with no rescue dog to a scene. This may occur with Snow Techs from SAR teams that have no rescue dogs. In this case, there might not be a predefined rendezvous LZ, and the Incident Command will determine an appropriate LZ for the loading.

    Loading

    The sequence for loading two Snow Techs is different from that when a Dog Handler and dog are present:

    1. The Flight For Life Colorado medical crew will meet the Avalanche Deployment Team members away from the helicopter and confirm that the rescuers have valid Avalanche Deployment cards.
    2. The first Snow Tech, without his/her backpack, picks up the two tightly bound ski-gear packages and drags the ski gear on the snow to the helicopter placing them directly next to the helicopter’s skid.
    3. The first Snow Tech makes sure the gurney belts are open and loads the ski gear on the gurney. He/she never raises skis above his/her waist.
    4. The first Snow Tech then boards the helicopter and puts his/her seatbelt and helmet on.
    5. Next, the first Snow Tech signals to the second Snow Tech to approach the helicopter.
    6. The second Snow Tech brings the packs out. He/she checks that the gurney belts are open and places one pack on the leg belt and secures the belt, then places the second pack on the chest belt and secures the belt.
    7. The second Snow Tech then closes the forward door, boards the helicopter, and puts his/her seatbelt and helmet on.
    8. Finally, the second Snow Tech closes and secures the sliding door.
    9. Using the Carter Box, the second Snow Tech informs the pilot that the doors are closed and secure and that the rescuers are ready to go.
    10. The pilot will then perform the “Heads Up Check” and will take off for the scene.

    Unloading

    The sequence for unloading two Snow Techs is different from that when a Dog Handler and dog are present:

    1. First, the pilot confirms to the team that it is safe to unload.
    2. The first Snow Tech takes his/her helmet off and places it up on the hook overhead.
    3. The first Snow Tech then unfastens his/her seatbelt, reaches behind him/herself and re-clips the seatbelt together so that the next crew or team can easily find it.
    4. The first Snow Tech then opens the sliding door and exits the aircraft.
    5. Once on the ground, the first Snow Tech unclips the leg and chest belts and unloads the packs. He/she places the gear on the ground at the 10-o’clock position just forward of the skid.
    6. The first Snow Tech goes directly to the packs under the rotor disk UNLESS OTHERWISE INSTRUCTED BY THE PILOT. The tech should remain low on the ground just ahead of the nose of the aircraft where he/she has eye contact with the pilot.
    7. While the first Snow Tech was performing his/her functions, the second Snow Tech takes his/her helmet off and places it up on the hook overhead.
    8. The second Snow Tech then unfastens his/her seatbelt, reaches behind him/herself and re-clips the seatbelt together so that the next crew or team can easily find it.
    9. The second Snow Tech exits the aircraft and unloads the skis/poles and places them flat on the ground next to the packs (being careful to never raise the skis or backpacks above his/her waist).
    10. The second Snow Tech refastens the gurney seat belts on to the gurney so that they do not fall in to the door jambs or outside the door.
    11. The second Snow Tech closes the doors and moves directly to the skis and packs under the rotor disk and remains there.
    12. Both Snow Techs remain in place in order to maintain eye contact on the pilot.
    13. At this point, the pilot will take off and exit the scene and perform a radio check with the ground personnel.
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