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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released preliminary findings into the death of a man who fell from a safety harness while being winched into a helicopter.

The 65-year-old man had injured his ankle at Macs Cove in Victoria’s northeast in late August, and an Air Ambulance Victoria helicopter was called to rescue him, as reported in an earlier e-bulletin.

The man was being winched to safety in a rescue/retrieval harness (known as a strop) in a double-lift extraction with a paramedic, when the incident occurred.

Despite the helicopter crew’s efforts to prevent the man from slipping out of the strop, he fell to the ground and died as a result of his injuries, according to the ATSB’s preliminary investigation report.

It also stated the winch and rescue equipment were in working order and the crew qualified to perform the task.

The investigation is ongoing and will assess the rescue strop’s design and potential limitations, potential medical issues associated with winching patients in strops, the operator’s rescue procedures and protocols and certification procedures for helicopter winching rescue equipment.

For more details, visit the preliminary report.

Published on 24 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

WorkSafe Victoria is investigating the death of a man who fell from a rescue helicopter while being winched to safety.

The 65-year-old man injured his ankle at Macs Cove in Victoria’s northeast in late August, and an Air Ambulance Victoria helicopter was called to rescue him.

However, while he was being winched to safety he fell from the safety harness.

An ABC News report quoted Ambulance Victoria chief executive Greg Sassella, who said the man fell approximately 30 metres to his death.

“I understand he was at the door of the helicopter and they were attempting to get him into the helicopter,” he said.

“This is devastating for the crew, they spend their whole lives putting themselves at risk for patients and in this instance something’s gone astray.”

Counselling was offered to the Air Ambulance personnel, the report added.

WorkSafe said its inspectors and investigators attended the scene and are continuing their investigations.

For more details, visit WorkSafe and ABC.

Published on 12 September 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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