• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces


    National Park ID,MT,WY

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue Shorthaul

Two helitack crewmembers being shorthauled by a helicopter.

Search and rescue in the park and surrounding forests is a function of the ranger division in the park and the Sheriff's office outside the park. The helitack crew and helicopter are often called upon to assist by doing aerial searches of the area or ferrying searchers to the site. If the victim is in an area that will present more dangers to the rescuers by trying to rescue them using ground rescue methods, the helicopter and crew are certified to perform a shorthaul or power on landing and extraction.

Shorthaul is a method whereby the rescuer or rescuers as well as possibly a litter and medical equipment are taken to the scene by means of being harnessed to a 100 or a 150 foot rope secured to the hook and another hard point under the helicopter.

Helitack Shorthaul

The pilot usually can position the rescuers right next to the patient. They unhook from the rope to prepare the person to be flown out by placing them either in a litter or in a "screamer suit." A "screamer suit" is a body harness used to extricate people from the backcountry. The pilot then returns with the rope and they hook up and are lifted to a waiting ambulance or other emergency vehicle to get them to a definitive medical care.

Another option is the toe in or power on landing. The pilot brings the helicopter in to a point as close as possible to the victim and touches one skid or wheel down while still maintaining lift with the blades. The rescuer then exits the aircraft without it ever actually landing and administers aid or prepares the injured person for extraction.

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