U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
BLM Officials Urge Visitors to Steer Clear of Helicopter Landing Zones
Officials at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area noticed a disturbing trend over the Thanksgiving weekend. Visitors were either ignoring or unaware of the hazards associated with helicopter landing zones. (text continues below)
Helicopters are often called to assist in the evacuation of seriously injured visitors. When this happens, a landing zone is secured by staff, and occasionally helpful visitors assist. Marked BLM or other official vehicles are positioned around the landing zone as an indication that the area is now temporarily off-limits to through traffic. For the helicopter to land, the landing area needs to be free of obstructions, and this includes off-highway vehicle (OHV) traffic. When landing zones are breached by OHV riders, the helicopter may have to abort, delaying transportation. This delay may make the difference in life or death for the patient.
The landing zone is secured the entire time the helicopter is on the ground, and visitors are required to stay out of it. As helicopters sometimes land and leave the engine running, existing hazards include the spinning rotors (overhead and tail), which are difficult to see, and collisions with the aircraft.
- Joya Szalwinski, Interpretive Park Ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office/Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (December, 2012)