UKH

/ Helicopter rescue video

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JLS on 09 Jan 2019

This came up on Facebook today...

(Sorry if it’s been discussed before)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jtq09vVFDow

Even with my cavalier attitude to H&S this looks way to risky.

Why not winch? Anyone care to speculate on the decision making process?

1
Rigid Raider - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

That was the slickest rescue I've ever seen. Alpine helicopter pilots do fly with panache and that one is no exception, he clearly has the experience to know the swept area of his rotors and dumping the skids into the slope provides a very stable platform for a quick embarkation. The winch rescue was equally well-practiced.

My only irritation is the muppet behind the camera - why do people film in portrait?

DerwentDiluted - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

> Why not winch? Anyone care to speculate on the decision making process?

Yes, it went something like this;

'Ah bet you cannot do a whoele rescue wizzout fleekin ze ash from your zigarette'

'Ah bet Ah can'

 

1
Rigid Raider - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

We watched a helicopter take off at the Cabane des Vignettes, the pilot was looking sideways into the eyes of the spectators inside the dining room; he lifted, tilted forwards and dropped over the edge like a stone, reappearing far down the valley a few seconds later. That was panache.

Luke90 on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

> Why not winch? Anyone care to speculate on the decision making process?

Maybe with two different locations to grab people from they were short of either harnesses or winch-trained team members?

Or maybe the almost-landing method isn't as dangerous as it looks to the untrained eye and is worthwhile just for the ease of loading three people and the seconds it saves over paying out and retracting the winch an extra time or two.

EwanR on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

There are some more videos at https://www.ledauphine.com/haute-savoie/2019/01/07/des-images-impressionnantes-d-un-sauvetage-en-montagne-par-la-pghm which clarify what was going on.

The two people picked up initially are the paramedics/doctors who presumably know how to get in and out of helicopters without getting chopped to bits.

The rescuer with the injured skier is then winched up.

Timmd on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to DerwentDiluted: That's exactly what happened.

 

Offwidth - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

My friend Mike is alive today and doing all this thanks to a very brave helicopter rescue in Norway from the Troll Wall. There was regular thaw rockfall and they had to move towards the cliff with a rescuer on the end of a rope, stop before they hit the cliff and hope the swinging-in  rescuer had the right speed to reach Mike without hurting themselves on contact.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/paralyzed-former-rock-climber-explores-cutting-edge-science-in-toronto-1.4238567

 

mrphilipoldham - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Luke90:

Given it’s £90 a minute to operate (if I recall correctly) I’d be quite happy to see them working as fast as possible! 

1
jon on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

> We watched a helicopter take off at the Cabane des Vignettes, the pilot was looking sideways into the eyes of the spectators inside the dining room; he lifted, tilted forwards and dropped over the edge like a stone, reappearing far down the valley a few seconds later. That was panache.

But they sometimes blow it. 11 July 2005 a helicopter taking off from the Vignettes caught its rotor on the roof of the hut and fell down onto the glacier below, upside down. The pilot, who was the only person aboard survived, but the helicopter didn't.

Rigid Raider - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

Shoot, I didn't know that. Did they leave the chopper down there with all the poo and toilet paper?

jon on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

Cushioned the landing

 

Frank4short - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

The PGHM pilots in Cham are amongst the best in the world, if not the best. I once had one deposit his paramedic in the middle between me and my 3 buddies (1 of whom was broken). Fitting the helicopter landing bar/pad directly over 2 us leaving a 1-2 cm impression in the snow. When the pilot came back 5 mins later to collect Jim it was more or less the same as that first part of the rescue on the video. Have heard of lots of similar yet infinitely more extreme cases.

Jim Fraser - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

> Even with my cavalier attitude to H&S this looks way to risky.

> Why not winch? Anyone care to speculate on the decision making process?

Oui, c'est incroyable! Winching requires considerable power margins and those are generally available, even for the very capable EC145, when air is dense and moving. So at altitude, this is a serious problem and only the coldness of the mountain air and the translational lift gained from its movement allows this to happen at all. The pilot has just flown up there in a few minutes so his own mental and physical performance may be ticking away if the altitude is extreme. This is just one of many factors than force this approach of just getting straight in there and getting it done and out quick. 

Unlike UK SAR aircraft, these guys generally operate their winch while moving to harvest translational lift. At extremes of altitude, they will have a stripped aircraft with minimum personnel and winch out a rescuer on approach and set him down as though he was on a long-line. You can see from the later part of this video that he is moving pretty much as soon as he has weight on the winch, and clearly he has a good fly-away opportunity to his left. It's possible he may have detected more air movement here than at the other location. At that second group there is at least one supernumerary, that being the guy videoing, and there may be more out of shot. That may also be part of the decision making process. 

In the first part, with the partial landing, that is certainly pretty ballsy but if he has a good grasp of how this aircraft's geometry relates to the geometry of a snow slope then he's ready for this. The skid on the open door side means that as they move to or from the door they are passing through a solidly supported part of the aircraft. There will still be changes in CofG and necessary lift as people move in or out of the aircraft and if you look carefully you can see the aircraft tipping slightly. The pilot is continuously moving the two levers to adjust for this and any changes in air movement. This is where patting your head while rubbing your tummy starts to look even more childish then usual! He is earning his Euros. All the persons at that location are getting in the helicopter and a partial landing with them right there next to the pilot's right foot provides an excellent reference as he goes in and there are no supernumeraries to worry about near the aircraft.

 

 

Post edited at 03:41
1
Andy Hardy on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

"Putain!! Incroyable!!"

Indeed

Michael Hood - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

> We watched a helicopter take off at the Cabane des Vignettes, the pilot was looking sideways into the eyes of the spectators inside the dining room; 

Just wondered if he was using the reflection in the windows to see distances etc. Similar to parking in a tight space in front of glass fronted shops.

Rigid Raider - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

More likely admiring his own reflection in the windows!

1
Timmd on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser:

Apparently it was a skier with a knee injury, and the gathering cloud meant they had to be in and out. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-46817132/skiers-rescued-by-dramatic-helicopter-manoeuvre

1
Jim Fraser - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Given it’s £90 a minute to operate (if I recall correctly) I’d be quite happy to see them working as fast as possible! 

That's the kind of numbers you get for a commercial utility helicopter operation. You get charged for relocation of the team to the area of operation with a can of fuel and some tools plus minutes of actual flying time on the job.

The numbers get more complicated with SAR and the training load is immense. Our MRT was recently asked by school pupils some questions about this and I did the numbers for them. 

You cannot attribute accurate costs to individual jobs but the average cost per job across the contract can be calculated. But then there are the savings that the job generates. Yes, the savings. Each accidental or unexplained death in a developed country like the UK costs the state around £2,000,000. Of the 1800 people assisted or transported each year, maybe 1000 are at risk of death. So that's £2bn in savings per year which is more than the entire 10 year contract costs and the £78088 average cost per rescue task is completely dwarfed. And that doesn't count the economic activity of the rescued person that is enabled to continue and contribute to the economy. 

1
Jim Fraser - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to jon:

> But they sometimes blow it. 11 July 2005 a helicopter taking off from the Vignettes caught its rotor on the roof of the hut and fell down onto the glacier below, upside down. The pilot, who was the only person aboard survived, but the helicopter didn't.

He's a Gendarme. They bounce well.

The accident rate in alpine helicopter rescue is higher than we experience in the UK. The risk profiles are maybe a bit different but it's not the whole story. HEC (Human External Cargo) accidents are a particular worry. That's longlining and winching. 

We are safer on the wire in the UK than anywhere in the world.

2
mrphilipoldham - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser:

Interesting reading, thank you.. though I was just on about the helicopter itself!

althesin on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

So, the shit hit the fan.

Timmd on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser: Fancy that about the savings, that's very interesting reading. 

 

Jim Fraser - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Timmd:

> Fancy that about the savings, that's very interesting reading. 

If Governments want their numbers to look good then they need to keep people alive and economically active!

1
Lurking Dave - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to althesin:

The fan hit the shit, shurely?

Offwidth - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser:

Where did the £2, 000, 000 come from Jim? If others are going to send stuff to people moaning about rescue services they need the sources to be believed. 

I should imagine my friend Mike Garton will end up saving many lives and reducing pain from potentially millions if his work on engineering cells to fight diseases like arthritis have any success. I'd lay good odds, given his almost peerless combination of determination and bravery as a climber and to go from fully qudraplegic post-accident to where he is now running his own research lab. 

Post edited at 10:33
Timmd on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser:

> If Governments want their numbers to look good then they need to keep people alive and economically active!

Or the less productive people dead. ;-) 

Michael Hood - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

I remember years ago they (who?) used to say that each road traffic death cost £1m so the £2m figure is probably right ball park.

Regardless, even being generous with Jim's figures, say £1m per death and £100k per rescue, if 1 in 10 chopper rescues results in saving someone who would otherwise be dead, then the service pays for itself.

That's a revelation to me and probably many others that the cost of the service is basically irrelevant.

Only real way to save money is to keep nearly everyone off the hills. Probably happen quite soon once JRM is in power

Offwidth - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Agreed. I'm not questioning it just wondered if he had any links I could use. Mike is the best example I know of an amazing rescue leading to amazing outcomes (possibly even for all humanity) but many people who were rescued where they probably would otherwise have died have gone on to be great citizens and big supporters of mountain rescue fundraising. A lot of that is beyond costings.

Jim Fraser - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

As Michael says, these figures have been around for some time. It is probably a decade or two since I came across the £1M figure he mentioned. I think it may have been the Crown Office that was the origin of reports of £2M which I found rather shocking. There is a figure on the HSE website that is less that £2M but still in the 1.5 to 2 bracket and I don't know how old that figure is. I did dig around in this stuff for corroboration and I think I had the 3 sources (WashPost standard!) but I haven't made a detailed note unfortunately. 

Nothing's getting any cheaper is it. And here we are in the safest corner of the entire world and we might wonder how that happens. Well it happens because, for all its many faults, our country has our back, and tries not to leave a stone unturned when somebody dies unnecessarily. That's why roads get closed for 5 or 6 hours after a serious accident and it's why police are still investigating Rene MacRae's disappearance since 1976.

Post edited at 19:12
1
jcw on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to JLS:

I've just talked to someone in the PGHM. A perfectly standard manoevre which hit the media because someone filmed it and the angle from which it was taken makes it appear more dramatic than the reality. 

Alasdair Fulton - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to Offwidth:

In  cost benefit analysis (such as when calculating whether an additional safety measure on the railways that costs £xxxM, and should save xx lives) is worth it, the "cost of a human life" is estimated to be around £1.8m. Brutal, but that's the number.


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