Losses and Aviation Safety

The day an Elisoccorso Alto Adige Airbus H145 helicopter crew saved my life

Within minutes from the call, one of the three Airbus H145 helicopters belonging to the Elisoccorso Alto Adige successfully hoisted me off the mountain…

On Jun. 29, 2021 during a hike in the Italy’s Dolomites in the Landro Valley, a valley that joins the regions South Tyrol with Veneto, I fell from the trail and I was trapped between fallen boulders.

Because of the rough terrain in the area I opted to call out an operator at 112 emergency phone number. Within minutes from the call, one of the three Airbus H145 helicopters (callsigns Pelikan 1, Pelikan 2 and Pelikan 3) belonging to the Elisoccorso Alto Adige (Alto Adige Alpine Rescue) successfully hoisted me off the mountain and back to a safe location to be transported by ambulance to the hospital of San Candido, a small town located in Pusteria Valley.

Thanks to their helicopters the Elisoccorso Alto Adige is able to provide faster rescue operations in a hostile environment, fast hospitalization in every territory. The helicopter is one of the best allies of the alpine rescue. A bond that was born long ago, when in the ’60s the first mountain rescuers groups began to collaborate with the flight departments of the Italian Army and Air Force developing over time unique skills, which make the Elisoccorso Alto Adige helicopter rescue Technicians indispensable figures of the modern health system.

Today the Elisoccorso Alto Adige (as well as the Corpo nazionale soccorso alpino e speleologico, CNSAS, Alpine Rescue) works in close relationship with the 118 actors, bringing with specially prepared and equipped sanitary helicopters – acting like real hospitals – rescue in mountain environments and in all those situations where the helicopter is the winning choice for aid operations to population and mountain users.

The Rescue Helicopter Technician of Soccorso Alpino is responsible for the safety on the ground of the health team, making medical interventions possible.

If the terrain allows for it, the H145 will perform a landing: this operation can only take place in areas away from aerial ropeways, power lines, plants and other obstacles.

When the terrain does not allow for the landing, the pilot can decide to approach the site of the accident by adopting a stationary flight maneuver (Hovering); the helicopter stays still not far from the ground, sometimes it leans only on one runner. The operation is particularly delicate and demanding for the pilot who must keep the helicopter in a precarious balance; the landing of the rescuers and the embarkation of the injured people must be done with the utmost delicacy and in perfect harmony under the flight personnel’s authorization.

The winch (like that that hoisted me) is used on a vertical terrain or in situations where it is not possible to adopt landing or hovering. The mountain rescue technician is climbed down from the helicopter placed with a stationary flight on the vertical of the accident site; the technician, after having evaluated the situation, will be joined with the same modality by the health team.

A big thanks to the guys of Elisoccorso Alto Adige and their awesome H145 helicopters, not only for their help with writing this article, but also because they most probably saved my life. Be sure to check out their website!

Additional source: Corpo nazionale soccorso alpino e speleologico (CNSAS) website

Photo credit: HELI

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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