Ambulance helicopter contribution to air based search and rescue in North Norway during 2000-2010
Background: Search and rescue (SAR) operations constitute a small but important proportion of the Norwegian ambulance helicopter services’ workload. There is no common database for all SAR helicopter operations, because several different resources contribute to the operations, and there is no common definition of SAR in use among different services. Methods: We performed a manual search through the mission databases for the three dedicated SAR and helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) bases in our area, and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (North) database, for helicopter-supported SAR operations in the potential operation area of the Tromsø HEMS base during the years 2000-2010. We defined SAR operations as all missions above sea inside 10 nM from the coast line, all missions with rescue hoist or static rope, missions with an initial search phase, and all avalanches. Results: There were 769 requests for helicopter support in 639 different search and rescue operations, and 600 helicopter missions were completed. The number of operations increased over the study period, from 46 operations in 2000 to 77 operations in 2010. The Tromsø HEMS contributed with the highest number of missions and the service also experienced the largest increase over the years, from 10 % of the missions in 2000 to 50 % in 2010. Simple terrain operations or sea operations dominated in the different sub-regions of the study area, but avalanches accounted for as many as 12 % of the missions. Static rope or rescue hoist was used in 141 out of the 639 operations. Conclusions: We have been able to describe all helicopter supported SAR operations in our area by combining available databases and employing common SAR definition. The local HEMS service experienced the greatest increase in SAR operations, and further studies are suggested to understand the causes for the increase. We suggest that increased availability is one potential explanation.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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