Helicopter Evacuation Checklist

  • Flimlin, Gef

In the event of an emergency aboard a fishing vessel, the United States Coast Guard may be the difference between life and death for the injured person. Proper preparation for their arrival and compliance with these guidelines can help to facilitate the rescue effort and save precious time. These guidelines should be read by all crew members and they should be familiar with them in case of an emergency evacuation. It is not always the uniformed who can get hurt and need to be flown to a hospital. New crew members may have to take charge of a situation if the caption or mate are incapacitated.

  1. Give accurate position, time, speed, course, weather conditions, wind directions and velocity, and voice frequencies.
  2. If already provided, give complete medical information, including whether or not the patient can walk on his own.
  3. If you are beyond helicopter range, advise your diversion intentions so that a rendezvous point may be arranged.
  4. If there are any changes, advise immediately. Should the patient expire prior to arrival of the helicopter, be sure to advise. Remember, the flight crew are risking their lives attempting to help you.

  1. Provide continuous radio guard on Channel 16 RM (156.800 MHz), 2182 kHz, or specified VOICE frequency if possible.
  2. Select and clear the hoist area, preferably aft, with a minimum 50-foot radius. This must include the securing of loose gear, awnings and antenna wires. Trice up running rigging and booms. If the hoist is aft, lower flagstaff.
  3. If hoist is at night, light pickup area as much as possible. Do Not Shine Any Lights On The Helicopter, the pilot can be blinded by these lights. If there are obstructions in the vicinity, put a light on them so the pilot will be aware of their positions.
  4. Point searchlights vertically to aid in locating the ship, and secure them when helicopter is on scene.
  5. Advise location of pickup area BEFORE the helicopter arrives so that he may make his approach aft, amidships or forward, as required.
  6. There will be a high noise level under the helicopter, making voice communication almost impossible. Arrange a set of hand signals among the crew who will assist.

  1. If possible, move the patient to a position as close to the hoist area as his condition permits - Time Is Important.
  2. Normally, if a litter is required, it will be necessary to move the patient to the special litter which will be lowered by the helicopter. Be prepared to do this as quickly as possible. Be sure patient is strapped in face up With the Life Jacket, if his condition permits.
  3. Be sure patient is tagged to indicate what medication, if any, was administered, and when.
  4. Have patients medical record and necessary papers in envelope or package ready for transfer WITH the patient.
  5. Change course so the ship rides as easily as possible with the wind on the bow, preferably on the port bow. Try to choose a course to keep stack gases clear of the hoist area. Once established, maintain course and speed.
  6. Reduce speed if necessary to ease ships motion, but maintain steerageway.
  7. If you do not have radio contact with the helicopter, when you are in all respects ready for the hoist, signal the helicopter in with a come on by hand, or at night by flashlight.
  8. Allow basket or stretcher to touch deck prior to handling to avoid static shock.
  9. If a trail line is dropped by the helicopter, guide the basket or stretcher to deck with line - keep line clear at all times.
  10. Place patient in basket, sitting with hands clear of sides, or in the litter as described above. Signal hoist operator when ready for hoist. Patient signals by nodding head if he is able. Deck personnel give thumbs up.
  11. If necessary to take litter away from hoist point, unhook cable and keep free for helicopter to haul line. Do Not secure cable to vessel or attempt to move stretcher without unhooking.
  12. When patient is strapped in stretcher, signal helicopter to lower cable, hook up, and signal hoist operator when ready to hoist. Steady stretcher from turning or swinging.
  13. If trail line is attached to basket or stretcher, use to steady. Keep feet clear of line.

Supplied by Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the New Jersey Marine Advisory Service through cooperation with the United States Coast Guard.


The following information is required for Medical Evacuation. Boat captain or crew member in charge should have this information ready for the radio man from the Coast Guard helicopter.

Save this checklist- The information contained here is essential!

Medical Evaluation Check-off List

  1. Vessel Information:
    1. Name/Type:
    2. Call Sign:
    3. Nationality/Port:
    4. Description of vessel:
    5. Frequencies Available:
    6. Position:
    7. Course:
    8. Speed:
    9. Person Calling:
  2. Patients Vital Statistics:
    1. Name:
    2. Home Port:
    3. Sex:
    4. Age:
    5. Seaman's Pager No.:
    6. When did injury occur?
    7. Bleeding?
    8. Where?
    9. How Much?
    10. Temperature:
    11. Pulse:
    12. Any respiration?
    13. Conscious?
    14. Location of Pain:
    15. Type of Pain:
    16. Is patient Coherent?
    17. Can patient Walk?
    18. Treatment/Meds given:
    19. When?
    20. Does vessel have standard medical chest?
  3. Weather and Sea Conditions:
    1. Wind Velocity/directions:
    2. Sea direction/height:
    3. Visibility:
  4. If Evacuation is Necessary:
    1. Have Master insure that proper certificates/papers accompany patient.
    2. Radioman's instruction for helo/vessel MEDEVAC

Publication #: FS662

This document is apart of a series from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Publication date: September 1992.

Gef Flimlin, Marine Extension Agent, New Jersey Marine Advisory Service, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More