• Lift Ticket Program

  • Lift Ticket Program for SAR Missions

    SAR Lift Ticket ProgramDeveloped by SAR teams, County Sheriffs and Flight For Life Colorado, The Lift Ticket program is designed to insert rescuers into the field, improving response time and reducing the need for rescuers to hike several miles into the backcountry.

    In these SAR missions, the Flight For Life Colorado crew can also assume and give care to the patient and quickly transport him or her to an appropriate hospital when the patient’s condition warrants an evacuation by medical helicopter.

    In order to participate, each SAR Lift Ticket member must be accredited annually, and present his/her accreditation card prior to boarding the aircraft during a SAR mission.

    Lift Ticket Training Protocol

  • All SAR members participating in the Lift Ticket program are required to attend an annual Lift Ticket accreditation training with Flight For Life Colorado crewmembers.

    During the Lift Ticket accreditation training, the Flight For Life Colorado crewmembers will cover the following information (further detailed later in this material):

    1. Safe landing zones (LZs) and other information pertinent to landing the helicopter.
    2. How to approach the aircraft.
    3. Rotor wash, precautions of loose items, and noise/ear protection.
    4. Correct operation of the doors, keeping in mind that SAR members will usually enter and exit through the jump seat side only (left side facing forward).
    5. Location of the emergency exit handles, fire extinguisher and survival gear.
    6. Location of the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and the ELT switch in the cockpit.
    7. Emergency shutdown procedures.
    8. Medical equipment on the helicopter and capabilities of the medical crewmembers.
    9. How all loading and unloading of Lift Ticket participants will take place on the jump seat/sliding door side of the aircraft (left side facing forward).
    10. Proper securing of equipment and backpacks to the stretcher.
    11. Procedures to put on and secure helmets and seatbelts.
    12. Onboard communications procedures including use of the helmet microphone and communication switch device (Carter Box) to communicate through the onboard intercom.
    13. “Hot loads” – the entry to and exit from a helicopter while the rotors are turning.

    After the discussion of procedures by the flight crewmembers, the SAR members will then be required to individually demonstrate their proficiency at the following:


    1. Opening the aircraft door from the outside,
    2. Entering the aircraft,
    3. Securing the helmet and seatbelt,
    4. Closing the door, and
    5. Operating the Carter Box for onboard intercom communications.
    6. Internal emergency shutdown procedures should be demonstrated as well, and rescuers should be familiar with operation of the fuel shutoff, rotor brake, and battery shutoff.


    1. Opening the aircraft door from the inside,
    2. Removing and re-securing helmets and seatbelts, including closing and securing the seatbelt,
    3. Emergency exit location and operation (as a demonstration only, no actual operation of emergency exits), and
    4. Exiting and closing the aircraft doors.

    At the end of the skills demonstration, each SAR member will be given a personalized orange Lift Ticket ID card that expires one year from the date issued.

    Once a SAR member is accredited into the Lift Ticket program, he/she is able to be flown to search and rescue scene when the Lift Ticket program is underway during a rescue call.

    Lift ticket participants MUST have a current Lift Ticket card to board the Flight For Life Colorado helicopter. Only those with current cards will be flown. If a SAR team member does not have a card, he/she might go in last after they receive a safety briefing from the crew before loading.

    The Lift Ticket program requires one Flight For Life Colorado medical crewmember to be on board at all times to serve as a “safety escort” to the rescue member being transported.

    An alternative is to have one Flight For Life Colorado crewmember at each LZ (Incident Command LZ and Scene LZ) to directly assist the loading and unloading (a so-called “Modified Lift Ticket”). If weight is not an issue, then two SAR members can be flown at once under this Modified Lift Ticket program.

    Some SAR members keep current on training for Avalanche Deployment and Lift Ticket. If a rescuer has a current Avalanche Deployment or Rescue Deployment card, he/she may function in a deployment role (meaning they can operate “independently” without crewmember assistance). If the Avalanche Deployment or Rescue Deployment card is greater than 30 days past the last recertification date, it acts as a Lift Ticket card until one calendar year after the last recertification date indicated on the card. If there is any discrepancy Flight For Life Colorado crew should contact the AHJ.

  • Activation of the Lift Ticket Program during a SAR Mission

    When Flight For Life Colorado is requested for a search and rescue mission and use of the Lift Ticket is requested, the helicopter will proceed to the Incident Command LZ to pick up and shuttle in qualified SAR personnel under the Lift Ticket program.

    If the scene location is known and will not take the aircraft out of a reasonable distance from the Incident Command staging area, a Scene Recon will be performed prior to responding to the Incident Command staging area. This will give the pilot the ability to assess the scene, and perform a power check (particularly important at high altitude scenes and/or during periods of high temperatures, which limits aircraft performance).

    At any time, the Flight For Life Colorado crew reserves the right to abort or change the mission to include: personnel, LZs, and equipment. SAR members may choose not to perform the mission as well. Flight For Life Colorado applies a rule called, “Three to go, one to say NO” – a safety policy that means that all three persons on board must agree to the mission, and if any one person is uncomfortable or notices something affecting the safety of the crew, that person can abort the flight at any time (This includes SAR personnel.). This is a policy that is paramount to safety and a point that cannot be overstated. Each soul on board must feel absolutely comfortable with speaking up and saying, “NO GO!”

  • Before the helicopter lands to pick up rescuers, the rescuers must have their Lift Ticket accreditation cards out and visible. This will be the FIRST thing that the Flight For Life Colorado medical crewmember will ask for. Rescuers should also not approach the helicopter without the prior authorization of the AHJ and the Incident Commander.

    Once on board the aircraft, rescuers are required to wear one of the Flight For Life Colorado helmets, and should therefore be prepared for that. This means removing hats and goggles before boarding the helicopter, and safely storing them for use once the rescuers exit the aircraft.

    Personal helmets should be placed inside the rescuer’s backpack because the backpacks must be strapped down on the gurney (over the skis in the winter). If the helmet is on the outside, it may interfere with that process, making it more difficult to secure the packs.

    Due to the rotor wash, EVERYTHING must be secured properly, including, packs, helmets, gear, glasses, goggles, etc. Baseball-styled caps must NEVER be worn around or onboard the aircraft.

    1. The medical crew will exit the aircraft, taking the key trauma kit and other equipment to reduce weight.
    2. Both medical crewmembers will approach awaiting rescuers and confirm that their Lift Ticket cards are current. The crew and rescuers will then brief each other on the objectives, mission specifics, safety concerns, and risks associated with the mission.
    3. The helicopter will be shut down during this process, unless the pilot requests a hot load.
    4. When ready to start moving SAR personnel under the Lift Ticket program, Lift Ticket personnel and medical crew will proceed to aircraft.
    5. The medical crew will assist the SAR member in getting into the aircraft, securing belts and their equipment, and helmets, and will shut the doors.
    6. During winter, rescuers must strap their skis/snowshoes and poles together tightly before approaching the aircraft. This prevents fumbling around with loose skis and poles and creates a single bundle for loading and unloading.
    7. All loading and unloading will take place on the side of the aircraft of the sliding door (left side facing forward, opposite the pilot).
    8. SAR members will often ride on the right seat, behind the pilot. The medical crewmember will ride on the jump seat (left side facing forward) so that they can assist with any LZ evaluation.
    9. If there is a rescue dog to be shuttled in, the dog should be secured with a leash at all times, including inside the aircraft (There is an eye bolt with tether for securing the dog inside the aircraft.). The dog should be loaded after the SAR member is secured in his/her seat. The dog should be lifted into the aircraft and handed off to the SAR member.
    10. One of the medical crewmembers will usually stay on the aircraft during the shuttles to the scene. The other crewmember will stay behind at the staging area with medical equipment and stow it safely away from the LZ.
    11. The medical crewmember on board will assist SAR members in all aircraft operations and oversee all loading, unloading, and functioning within the aircraft.
    12. Upon arrival at the rescue scene, the flight crewmember will exit the aircraft first and assist SAR with exiting and gathering of their equipment.
    13. If altitude, weather, or weight are of concern and only one SAR person can be taken by the pilot (with no crewmember on board), one flight crewmember will be positioned at the Incident Command area LZ and one at the Scene to facilitate loading and unloading (the “Modified Lift Ticket;” see below).
    14. Once a sufficient number of SAR members are inserted, the Incident Command may ask that the pilot either go to the scene or stage at the previous Incident Command LZ where SAR members were picked up. If the patient condition is critical and SAR requests the flight crew proceed to the scene, then either the Flight For Life Colorado nurse or paramedic should go in.
    15. If the pilot allows, both the flight medic and flight nurse can be inserted into the scene, with permission of the AHJ. This is the best-case scenario. If only one flight crewmember can go in, the other crewmember will be picked up as soon as the pilot allows.
  • “Modified” Lift Ticket

    In order to expedite transport of multiple rescuers, a “Modified Lift Ticket” may be initiated. In this case, one flight crewmember would be positioned at the Incident Command LZ and one at the Scene LZ to facilitate loading and unloading of TWO SAR personnel with no crewmember on board.

    If weight is a factor due to extremes in temperature (warm air being “thinner” and decreasing aircraft performance) and/or high altitudes, only one SAR member will be taken at a time. As the mission evolves and the helicopter becomes lighter through the consumption of fuel, there will be an increase in aircraft performance and heavier loads will generally be allowed on subsequent shuttles. The A-Star B3 burns roughly 40 gallons/hour, at 6.7 lbs./gallon – which equates to losing roughly 4.5 lbs. of weight each minute.

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