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Summary

Summary

The helicopter and crew were tasked to evacuate a stretcher patient from a remote site. To achieve the task the helicopter was to hover over the site with the pilot and winch operator onboard and two paramedic and an aircraft crewman on the ground to attend to the patient. The patient and a paramedic were up-light first. To stabilise the stretcher during the lift a tagline was attached to both the stretcher and the ground crewman. The procedure was that the paramedic lifted with the stretcher released the tagline from the stretcher as the strether approached the door of the helicopter. On this occasion, the tagline was not released and as the hover commenced forward flight the crewman was lifted from the ground. The crewman advised the aircraft crew that the tagline had not released and the pilot ceased forward flight while the winch operator released the tagline. The crewman fell about 12 metres to the ground and suffered back and leg injuries.

The tagline is fitted with an 80 kg "weak-link". However, on this occasion the crewman only weighed 70 kg and the "weak-link" did not operate. Also it was the task of the winch operator to ensure that the tagline was disconnected before he cleared the helicopter for forward flight. Because of the terrain and position of the stretcher on this occasion the winch operator was not able to visually check the tagline. The operator has investigated the circumstances surrounding the occurrence and implemented changes in their procedures to guard against a recurrence.

 
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