Accidents and Incidents

By Brian Stewart on  May 18, 2020 16:40
Accidents

Accidents on Hang Gliding and Paragliding sites are an unfortunate part of the sport. Summarised below is some guidance in case you should encounter one.

Your first priority at the scene of an accident is to carefully assess the situation. Exactly what has happened? Where is the casualty? What injuries have occurred? Is outside assistance required? If you cannot be sure (if, for example, you are flying when you see a glider crash on a remote moor) it is safer to be pessimistic. A false alarm is better than leaving a casualty lying for hours in the open. Accidents are often highly stressful environments, and in such situations it is very easy to miscommunicate information, forget vital details and devote your emotional energy in unhelpful directions. So make every effort to assess the situation carefully, act calmly and communicate slowly and clearly.

If someone is injured you have two priorities, to protect the casualty so that their condition does not worsen, and to alert the emergency services to ensure prompt transfer to proper medical care.

Calling the emergency services

The best way to do this is to dial 999, when asked what service you reqiure say “Police”, and tell the Police you need Mountain Rescue. In the majority of our flying accidents Mountain rescue are by far the most effective service. They are familiar with the terrain, have a knowledge of our sport and the type of injuries we’re likely to sustain and have the skills and capability to safely extract casualties from remote areas.  They are also very well equipped for our kind of accidents.

When you call make sure that you know the location of the casualty , and give enough information for the rescue services to find them. Most accidents happen in remote areas far from roads or towns, so having an OS Grid Reference to hand is ideal and the primary navigational system used by Mountain Rescue teams. Apart from dedicated GPS devices, number of smartphone apps (like OS Locate and Viewranger) now provide instant OS grid references. The club also provides safety cards which list grid references for popular DSC take-offs and landing fields.

When speaking to the Police report the nature of injuries and the casualty’s condition. It is usually helpful to describe the cause, such as “a fall from height” – which often adequately describes the type of accident. Emergency services will approach by road, so it is extremely useful to nominate people to go to the nearest road so they can direct rescuers to the scene.

If you see an accident from the air, land and use a mobile phone. Otherwise fly to the nearest farm or telephone box, or if you have radio, pass a message to someone on the ground, get them to read it back as a check. On the hills Peak Park or National Trust Wardens can make an emergency call by radio, or if you are alone use your whistle (you SHOULD ALWAYS fly with one) to send the mountain distress signal – this is six blasts in one minute, then wait one minute and repeat.

Helping the emergency services

You can help the Mountain Rescue or Ambulance Service by sending someone to meet them at the roadhead or car park and guide them to the scene. Stay where you said you would be until the Ambulance or Mountain Rescue arrive and DO NOT start to try to evacuate the casualty yourself. It may be necessary to stay in a location away from the casualty to maintain mobile phone contact as the rescue controller may wish to call you back to discuss the situation.

If a helicopter has been summoned it is vital that everyone LANDS IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do so puts the casualty and aircrew’s life at risk (as well as your own). Be alert for radio messages, vehicle lights or horns, crossed glider bags or flares/smoke as ground signals indicating that you are required to LAND – not fly away to the other end of the ridge.

Care of the casualty

In this guide we cannot teach First Aid, but PLEASE consider taking one of the excellent courses, such as those provided by the British Red Cross Society or St. John’s Ambulance. From time to time PSC run first aid courses, ask a committee member if you are interested.

The knowledge and confidence this will give you may be very valuable, and you are far more likely to encounter an accident at home, at work, or on the roads than on a flying site. Your employer may support your training as they have an obligation to provide trained First Aiders. However, even without this training there is much you can do.

  • DO NOT take risks with your own safety; you will help no one by becoming a casualty yourself. This is of particular importance with  power lines, water and crags.
  • DO NOT move a casualty unless they are in a life threatening situation (e.g. lying in water or have no airway). Always remember the possibility of spinal injury, which can be made much worse by incautious movement.
  • DO NOT give a casualty anything to eat or drink or you may delay medical treatment.
  • DO protect a casualty from the elements, and help them to keep warm by improvising a shelter – gliders and glider bags are useful in this respect. Support and immobilise any injured limbs and try to control any major bleeding, but do not attempt to improvise splinting or use a tourniquet.
  • DO speak to the casualty in a calming and reassuring way, tell them that they are in good hands, and that help is on its way. Even if they appear to be unconscious they may still be able to hear all that is said around them.
  • DO try to keep bystanders and spectators away from the scene, they may distress the casualty, or be distressed themselves. You might use some responsible people to keep them away, but also ask if there is anyone with medical skill if needed (although they will normally volunteer).
  • DO be especially cautious if there is no obvious injury. Look for the possibility of head injury (bruising, cuts, damaged helmet etc.). If you have the slightest suspicion that someone may have suffered any head injury or spinal injury, or if they have any loss of memory or have been unconscious, even for a second, they MUST be taken to a hospital for checks (do not rely on them promising to go).
  • DO call for Mountain Rescue assistance (999, ask for Police, Mountain Rescue) as well as ambulance if the casualty is located anywhere except at the roadside.
Power line accidents

If a casualty, or any part of their aircraft are in contact with power lines, or if cables are touching the ground, DO NOT APPROACH CLOSER THAN 20 YARDS until you are assured by someone from the Electricity Board that the power has been cut off. Automatic circuit breakers may attempt to reconnect the power several times without warning. In wet conditions stay even further away. To be blunt it would be distressing to watch someone die, but stupid to double the death toll by attempting a misguided rescue.

Informing next of kin

It is perhaps best if next of kin of a casualty can be informed sensitively by someone well known to them, but if this is not possible it should be left to the police, who are trained to handle this sometimes difficult job. You should also try to make sure that they do not find out accidentally, which might cause great distress, see the next bit…

Dealing with the media

If you are approached by a representative of the media be cautious about what you say. It is best to refer them to a senior member of the club committee who can make a considered statement later, but if you do speak to them, confine yourself to an eye-witness account describing ONLY what you saw, DO NOT speculate about events or causes, and DEFINITELY DO NOT identify the casualty.

Serious accidents & fatalities

In a serious accident you have an extra responsibility, which is to help any future investigation. Ensure that wreckage is not moved or disturbed until it has been examined, unless you must move something to aid the victim. If possible photographs of the accident scene may be useful, and if you have photos, video, etc. which show the accident, you should offer these to the investigation – this can be done through the local police.

After the event

Complete the online BHPA incident report form as soon as possible and remember to record full details of any witnesses before they depart. Send it to the BHPA office as soon as possible.

If you witness a serious but non fatal accident or incident, you must report it immediately to the BHPA on 0116 261 1322. If you are in any doubt as to whether an accident or incident has been reported, do it anyway. Don’t assume someone else has already done it- make sure, or do it yourself.

If you witness any serious accident or incident, please fill in an incident report form and report the accident to the committee via the club safety officer as soon as possible.

Fatal accident protocol

If you witness a fatal accident, you must report it immediately to the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) on 01252 512299.

Telephone numbers

Power Line Accidents: please treat any electricity cables as if live, stay away and call emergency number 0800 31 63 105 (or just 105).

With acknowledgements to Derbyshire Soaring Club

Sites Open, but tread carefully please

By Brian Stewart on  May 14, 2020 21:43

We’re at the point where we have been released from the grip of gravity again. There is still some way to go, but it has been very gratifying to see the almost perfect adherence to the guidelines issued by CAA, BHPA and the member clubs across the UK regarding free flight. One of the outstanding characteristics of PG and HG pilots, and our powered cousins, is a willingness to assess risk, make reasoned judgments and take responsibility for the consequences. That this has not led to large numbers making the assessment that it’s OK to fly despite the official line, is a testament to the responsible attitude of the vast majority of us.

The club’s officers have been in constant communication with the BHPA, our neighbouring clubs and the various individuals and bodies that control the land around our sites to coordinate our approach to the easing of restrictions. Rest assured that we were all desperately keen to get back to what we love as soon as it became safe and reasonable to do so.

Our sport is but a niche recreational activity on the fringes of aviation which is a large multi-billion-pound industry. It is only through the hard work the BHPA’s officers over decades that we have such light-touch, unlicensed (and therefore untaxed) regulation of our activities. The future of this relationship depends on CAA and, by extension, the government, remaining convinced that paragliding and hang gliding are governed responsibility by the BHPA through its network of local clubs.

As the aviation industry shrinks, there is an opportunity to influence the future airspace plans that are afoot. We have a dog in this fight, albeit a rather toothless, three-legged one-eyed mongrel, but we have a voice and have made representations to derestrict some of the blocks of airspace that get in our way downwind of Parlick and Pendle. I’m not expecting too much to come of this, but one way to guarantee no movement will be to discredit our organisations in the eyes of the CAA.

Please remember too that when we go to Parlick or Pendle or wherever, we are guests in the neighbourhood. People are fearful of the virus and may be very wary of the return of visitors from outside. Take heed of the guidance given in the BHPA document regarding hygiene and social distancing – we are only in phase 1 of the re-opening.

So, thank you to all of you for your patience, and please – resist the temptation to use closed sites until we get the go-ahead. Remember that even though you may be invulnerable and indestructible, someone close to you or an onlooker may be only one contact step away from another with a pre-existing condition that means serious consequences if they were to catch this virus. There are still thousands of new infections each day, and that’s just among those able to get tested.

Enjoy the skies, and thank you for waiting.

Covid–19 An update from V.I.P.E.R.

By Brian Stewart on  April 5, 2020 16:56

Week 3

As we’re about to start the 3rd week of what is still a soft lockdown, here’s a brief update from the point of view of the PSC. Again, a massive vote of thanks to all of you for keeping temptation at bay and keeping your gliders and harnesses lovingly stored away in warm dry places. Whether you’re new to this and are in the first flush of enthusiasm, itching to try out your newly-earned wings, a seasoned XC hound staring wistfully up at the cloud streets, or part of the majority who just enjoy the sheer pleasure of floating about in the sky, it’s a real struggle to stay positive and fight the urge to say “sod it, I’m going flying, what’s the harm?”

The potential harm is incalculable. Every trip out means some sort of contact, whether it’s fuelling at the petrol pump, your hand on the latch of the farm gate or stile, or just walking too close to someone who has just coughed up a few billion virus particles (without being aware they’re carrying). Never mind the possible consequences of a crash.

Whatever your view of the decisions made by the authorities, and some invite serious questions, now is not the time to challenge or defy them. No one knows which of the varying approaches tried by different countries will turn out to be the best; we are in this now for the foreseeable future.

Please continue to heed the instructions: stay home, no unnecessary journeys. People are like sheep, so for everyone parking somewhere nice, or ground-handling in a field, two more will see this and think it’s OK for them to do it too. There are plenty of countries where the lockdown is being much more strongly enforced than here. Let’s keep it civilised and voluntary while we can, as the consequences could be the loss of the freedoms we enjoy. Matt Hancock was very clear today that outdoor exercise could be banned if people continue to flout the regulations. Pilots should be among the most responsible groups of people, so don’t let it be one of us who hits the headlines.

Thank you, PSC committee.

In case you were wondering: Virally Inconvenienced Pilots Enduring Restrictions

Carabiner Warning

By Carl Fairhurst on  March 12, 2020 21:37

The original document is in French and can be viewed here

In 2018, it was reported that 3 accidents were caused by the rupture of the carabiners on solo and tandem paragliders.
It is proven that one of the accidents concerns a Camp-40mm carabiner distributed under the brand name Woody Valley.


This carabiner had about 3 years and 600 hours of cross-country and thermal flight and was used in solo paragliding.


After analysis of available public documents, products derived from the Camp 40 carabiner (Gin 40 ,Niviuk 40; APCO-AirExtreme 40; Kortel 40) would also be affected by a risk of rupture towards end-of-life or tandem use.
For safety reasons, users are advised not to use this equipment anymore.

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A collection of this material is set up with the aim of carrying out tests of residuelle resistance and the results of which will be published.

You can send your reform connectors, under envelope "bubble strengthens" accompanied by this fact sheet information a:

 

Use Exceptional Email

Manufacturer   Model  
Use Mono/BI/Acro/ Cross/Soaring   Main Axis Resistance - kN  
    Anne of Purchase Nine / Occas. ?  
   

Flight time

 

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Gudauri_Georgia paragliding accident - 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZKq-e0mOms&feature=voutu.be&t=441

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