Could you tell me who operates the hoist in the Coast Guard helicopter SAR teams?

Is it the A&P technician(Flight mechanic) or the Rescue swimmer(winchman)?

I'm interested to procedures from around the world, in particular inthe US, UK and Canada, but not limited to them.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It has to be the flight mechanic, because the winch needs to be able to hoist up the survivor while the rescue swimmer is still in the water $\endgroup$ Apr 24 '15 at 10:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rescue swimmers ride the hoist (sometimes); their job is to go swimming to rescue people (funnily enough). Therefore, they can't operate the hoist. $\endgroup$
    – cpast
    Apr 24 '15 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Are they flying the Jayhawk (H-60) or a Dauphin? $\endgroup$ Oct 11 '16 at 20:14

who operates the hoist in the Coast Guard helicopter SAR teams?

This depends on country and other factors, perhaps aircraft type etc.

In general, the winchman descends on the end of the winch cable and does not operate the winch.

In the UK, helicopter search and rescue were, until recently, mostly provided by the RAF. HM Coastguard HMCG (now part of Maritime and CoastGuard Agency - MCA) operate SAR helicopters too and will mostly take over the SAR role.

The standard SAR crew is made up of four members: two pilots, one of whom is the aircraft captain, a radar operator who acts as the winch operator at the rescue scene and a winchman, normally trained to paramedic standard, who will supply immediate first-aid and recovery services at the rescue site.

From RAF Sea King

Sometimes the role is taken by aircrew normally responsible for loading/unloading:

If you are part of aircrew, you would be responsible for loading and unloading aircraft payloads, ... You would also take on extra duties according to the aircraft type and its operational role. For example, ... you might train as a winch operator for search-and-rescue operations.

From RAF non-commissioned aircrew

Other References


Winchmen and rescue swimmers leave the helicopter during a SAR operation, because it's their job to go down and actually rescue people. So, they can't operate the hoist. The job falls to the flight mechanic, who's the only one in the chopper who can see the rescue scene.

  • $\begingroup$ Modern helicopters like the AW139 can be controlled by the hoist operator itself during the winching like you can see at minute 27 youtube.com/watch?v=bsxlYEOmfM0 $\endgroup$
    – helis.com
    Oct 11 '16 at 14:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You'll need to provide some kind of reference to back this up. And say which service/country you are talking about. $\endgroup$ Oct 11 '16 at 15:19

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