Aircraft Safety

At Ornge, we are committed to the safety of patients, crews, emergency first responders and members of the public. This page offers safety information about each of our vehicles.


Do you have any questions? Please feel free to reach out to our Aviation Safety Department:

Email: aviationsafety@ornge.ca
Phone: 647.428.2005 x 4771 (Monday to Friday: 7am - 3pm )

Landing Zone Safety

Safety is a key priority at Ornge. We have a dedicated and experienced aviation team working on a daily basis to ensure patients and crew are safe when they fly with us.

We have prepared a variety of materials that will explain how to protect yourself and your team around our aircraft to ensure safe arrivals and departures. Learn more about on-scene safety procedures including coordinating, preparing and securing a landing zone below:

Helicopter Safety

Learn more about approaching or leaving an Ornge helicopter with the Rotor Wing Aircraft Safety Sheet.

Airplane Safety

Learn more about approaching or leaving an Ornge plane with the Fixed Wing Aircraft Safety Sheet.

Helicopter Onscene Safety Procedures

In addition to the Rotor Wing Aircraft Safety Sheet, we encourage you to review the additional materials and invite you to download the video below.
 
 

 
Landing Zone Coordinator
When requesting an Ornge response with a helicopter, it is essential to select a Landing Zone Coordinator. The Coordinator should be someone who is not involved in scene operations or patient care such as police, fire or other first responders. 

The Coordinator is responsible for selecting, setting up, securing and maintaining and area for the helicopter, throughout the entire transport operation. The Pilot-in-Command has the final decision on whether or not to land, and is responsible for utilizing the selected landing zone or choosing a more appropriate, safe alternative.

Landing Zone Requirements
When selecting a landing zone, please ensure:
  • the landing zone is not boxed in by emergency vehicles (unless there are no alternatives);
  • the landing zone is clear of obstacles such as wires, trees, stumps, vehicles or loose debris. Please communicate any obstacles within a 360 degree radius to the flight crew prior to landing.
  • the landing zone is on a stable surface such as concrete, ashphalt, packed gravel or grass;
  • the landing is as flat as possible
  • you do not use flares or other objects to outline the landing zone
  • streatchers are left in the ambulance and/or all loose articles are secured until directed by a member of the flight crew;
  • firefighters have not laid out hose. Any hoses that have been laid must be charged.

Securing the Landing Zone
When securing a landing zone, please:
  • place a minimum of two vehicles, beyond each end of the designated landing zone, perpendicular to the intended landing zone to prevent access to other vehicles;
  • have the fire department hose down any dusty areas to prevent a zero visibility situation upon landing or departure;
  • pack down fresh snow to prevent whiteout conditions or warn the flight crew of loose or powder snow conditions;
  • ensure vehicles and personnel are clear from the landing zone (radius of 150') from a minimum of 3 minutes prior to the estimated time of arrival or a positive indication from the flight crew that it is safe to enter the landing zone;
  • ensure vehicles and personnel are clear from the landing zone at any time after an indication, vebal or physical, from the flight crew that they are ready to start engines.

Communications
When requesting an on scene response, it is important to provide an accurate description of the landing zone in relation to the scene location. All scene and landing zone location information should be relayed to local dispatch to it can be communicated to the Ornge Operations Control Centre and the flight crew.

Helpful information includes:
  • GPS coordinates (preferred method of identifying the site and should be used with the methods below);
  • highway numbers and distances to nearby towns;
  • directional (compass) headings to the scene from the landmarks
  • Emergency Service Vehicle Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVLs) can be used to identify coordinates of the accident area.

Wind
All take-offs and landings will be made into the wind whereever possible. Wind direction should be considered when selecting a landing zone.

Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)
Never assume the flight crew is aware of a HAZMAT danger. Always ensure the flight crew is notified as to the nature of any such dangers as soon as possible prior to landing. When hazardous materials a present, the landing zone should be located UPWIND of the incident and outside of the HOT ZONE. Rotor downwash could spread hazardous materials over 100 metres. Please avoid choosing low lying areas for landing zones as vapours collect in low terrain. 

Hazards
When the engine is turned on and the blades of the helicopter are in motion, please be aware that:
  • the main rotor blade tips are almost invisible when spinning;
  • the tail rotor blades are almost invisible when spinning;
  • rotor downwash
    • helicopters generate high winds. It is essential to examine the landing zone for any loose objects or debris, as this may be picked up by rotor downwash and ingested through an engine intake. 
    • common debris includes everything that is not secure, including but not limited to pillows, blankets, tarps, loose clothing, sticks, plywood, paper and plastic bags.
    • rotor downwash is capable of reaching speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.
    • personnel should take cover inside or behind vehicles while a helicopter is arriving or departing.
    • vehicle doors, windows and access compartments should be closed.
    • extreme caution should be exercised when a helicopter is operating in the vicinity.

Personal Protective Equipment
During arrival and departure of the helicopter, it is important to ensure that all personal protective equipment is worn. This includes but is not limited to:
  • eye protection;
  • hearing protecting;
  • helmet with visor down and chin strap fastened;
  • jacket and pants to cover bare skin.

Night landings
Ornge helicopters will only respond to heliports, airports and company approved landing sites at night. 

If you have further questions or concerns, please contact helipadsupport@ornge.ca or aviationsafety@ornge.ca