Unfortunately our sport sees a number of accidents and injuries each year. Over the course of a long flying career the chances are that you will be present at an incident so it is essential that you know what to do. Every year the club organises talks on dealing with accidents and basic first aid; please try to attend one.
The first rule is to always keep an eye open for people who might be in trouble. On a hill you will often see people being dragged. If you see a hard landing, spot someone being dragged or are unsure of someone who landed out of sight, take a couple of minutes to go and investigate. If, while flying around, you spot someone who is lying / sitting without having their wing fully under control you should suspect that they might be injured; fly over and check they are OK. Look out for everyone else, one day it might be you!
If you see an accident or an injured person you should alert others and go over to help.
Make sure that it safe to approach, check for hazards such as road traffic, downed power lines and falling or drowning risks. Don’t make it two casualties. Power lines are particularly dangerous since they can kill in radius of at least 10m and will be switched back on automatically in an attempt to blast branches from the lines. If you are in the kill radius keep both feet on the ground and shuffle out. Contact the power company on 0845 770 8090 or dial 999 or 112 and wait for them to confirm that it is safe to approach.
Call 999 or 112
Use phrase ”casualty fallen from height in remote location”
Print off and keep your own TVHGC Safety Card
Site OS Grid Ref
Combe Gibbet SU 362 623
Golden Ball SU 127 638
Liddington SU 208 798
Milk Hill SU 101 644
Milk Hill WH SU 100 637
Rybury SU 084 637
Sugar SU 238 786
Tan SU 085 646
Uffington WH SU 302 868
White Hill SU 518 566
Your first task is always to stabilise the wing to ensure that it does not drag the pilot and cause further injury.
With paragliders you should grab a wingtip and run with it down to the pilot, then bundle the wing up next to the pilot.
With hang gliders you should carefully secure the edge of the wing that is facing into wind to prevent the glider from flipping over. When securing the hang glider you must ensure that the pilot is moved as little as possible.
Next you should make a quick assessment of the casualty’s condition. Are they Conscious or Unconscious? Are there any obvious injuries? If they’re conscious ask them what hurts. Hopefully, by now, other pilots will be arriving to help.
Unless the pilot is uninjured, or definitely only has very minor injuries, the Emergency Services should be called. Detail the nature of the injuries and the location of the casualty. Make clear to the emergency services how far from the road the site is; they will send a vehicle appropriate to the location of the site. Most of our sites however are in a remote location. When briefing the emergency services and if a pilot has fallen from height then inform them that "the pilot has fallen from height in a remote location" and provide the OS grid references (available in the site guide). In most cases this will result in the Air Ambulance being called out.
If in any doubt make the call. With best intentions, too many people have been helped home with serious injuries (broken backs in some cases) that are not discovered for weeks.
When calling the Emergency Services use the European single emergency call number 112 in preference to the UK 999 number. The 112 number provides caller location information to the operator.
Hopefully other pilots will have arrived to help by now. If a first aider is present they will take charge of the situation. However, if no-one else is around to help, or no-one is a first aider you will need to deal with the situation yourself. The club’s First Aid talks cover the basics of dealing with an incident and we strongly urge you to attend one.
If an air ambulance is going to arrive you must get everyone out of the air and make them stay out of the air. A large H symbol (created with wings on the hill) is the official symbol for “all land, air ambulance on the way”. Clear all kit and people from any potential landing areas. Even a lose stuff bag can seriously damage the Helicopter engine(s). Signal to the Helicopter to attract attention and make sure that obvious landing areas are kept clear. Once it has landed do not approach it, the crew will come to you. They may land some distance away and move closer later. Keep everyone on the ground until the helicopter has departed.
Road ambulances may not know the location of the sites. If you have enough manpower ensure there are people at the end of the track to guide the ambulance in and people in the parking area to help carry equipment.
All accidents should be reported to the BHPA and club’s safety officer. If you see an accident you should make a factual note of what you saw and heard ASAP. It is best that you should make your notes before discussing the incident with anyone else. Be very wary of tainting your report by listening to the views of others. The loud opinionated types are often wrong. Write down what you saw and heard, only the facts. Get the names and address of any members of the public who witnessed the accident.
If the incident is fatal or potentially fatal the AIB must be informed immediately on 01252 512299. Other serious incidents should be reported to the BHPA immediately on 0116 2611322.