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