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General Emergency Action Plan

Before you fly:

  • Know your local radio frequency

  • Exchange phone numbers with other pilots, tell someone you’re flying

  • Know where you are:  county, town, nearby roads

  • Be prepared:  phone charged, carry water, dress appropriately for expected altitude and ground conditions, satellite emergency device

General Emergency Procedures
Downed Pilot:

  • All pilots check in on the local frequency

  • One person takes charge

  • Immediately assess:

    • Is there going to be a delay of more than 5 minutes to make contact with pilot?

    • Is pilot injured requiring medical attention?

    • Are search and/or rescue required? (Tree landing, water, or power lines)

    • Are there too few pilots available to handle the situation?

Report location of incident, mechanism of injury, pilot condition, where to meet escort, GPS coordinates.


  • While awaiting EMS, person in charge will:

    • Assess the scene for safety and access

    • Direct escort to meet EMS

    • Assess pilot for level of consciousness, breathing, pulse, pain

      • Do not move pilot, have pilot remain still

      • Stabilize head and neck, leave helmet on

      • Maintain contact with pilot, reassess frequently, gather medical history as able

    • Delegate people to:

      • Maintain stabilization of head and neck

      • Acquire GPS coordinates

      • Clear a path to scene

      • Figure out best access route to scene

      • Communicate with 911 operator

      • Acquire first aid equipment

      • Maintain safety at the scene

    • Direct treatment of life-threatening injuries

      • Pressure on actively bleeding sites

      • CPR if pulseless

      • Open airway if obstructed

  • Upon arrival of EMS, person in charge will ask what others can do to help, and direct people to those tasks.

If EMS is not required, person in charge will:

  • Arrange and maintain contact with search teams

    • Teams will consist of at least 3 people with radios, GPS capability, and one should have medical/first aid skills

    • Search teams should carry rescue ropes, first aid kit, water, flashlight, and compass.

  • Assure that searchers and rescuers are aware of safety issues

  • Activate EMS if necessary

Person in charge is responsible for reporting the incident to AZHPA and cooperating with investigations by AZHPA and/or USHPA.

Desert Safety
Arizona is a beautiful place to fly, with a variety of climates and terrain.  The desert can be unforgiving for pilots who are unprepared, especially when landing out after a cross country flight. 

Pilots (and spectators) should prepare for the desert:

  • Person in charge is responsible for reporting the incident to AZHPA and cooperating with investigations by AZHPA and/or USHPA.

  • Bring water!  Dehydration can occur quickly in our hot, dry climate.

  • Dress appropriately.  Protection from the sun is mandatory.  Hats and sunglasses, sunblock, and long sleeves help keep you safe.  The desert can also cool down considerably at night, so be prepared with warmer layers if you anticipate being out after sundown.

  • Beware of the plants.  There are a lot of thorns out there.  Packing a fine toothed comb can help remove cactus needles.  Knowing which plants to avoid, especially saguaro and cholla, is helpful.

  • Beware of the critters.   We have rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, and scorpions.  Watch where you step and sit.

  • Watch the sky.  If rain or a dust storm is approaching, there may not be cover.  Stay out of washes (arroyos) because of flash flood danger.  Dust storms can move fast, and are a reason to land quickly.

  • Wildfires are common.  Know where they are before you fly, and stay far away.  Check here for the latest info:

  • Be aware of the desert’s extreme flying conditions.  Know what times of day and times of year are safe for your skill level.  If visiting, consult one of our local pilots.

First Aid for the desert:

  • Heat related illnesses - heat exhaustion and heat stroke

    • Heat related emergencies are common in Arizona, affecting over 3000 people per year, and can be fatal.

    • Heat exhaustion:  symptoms include muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, sweating, fast heart rate or breathing, thirst, nausea/vomiting, fainting

    • Heat stroke is more serious.  Symptoms include high body temperature, rapid, weak breathing and pulse, confusion, dry skin, seizures, loss of consciousness

    • What to do:

      • Seek medical attention, call 911 if needed

      • Find shade

      • Get off the ground, which can be 30 degrees hotter than the air

      • Apply cool, wet towels to face, neck, chest, limbs

      • Slowly hydrate with cool water or sports drinks

    • Prevention is best. Sometimes, it’s just too hot to fly, especially over unpopulated areas.

    • For more information:

  • Dehydration

    • Dehydration can occur rapidly in our hot, dry climate

    • Symptoms include: thirst, dry mouth, muscle cramps, dark or absent urine, headache, dizziness, fainting, rapid heart rate and breathing

    • What to do:  slow oral re-hydration with water or sports drinks, seek medical attention if severe, as IV fluids may be needed.

    • Prevent by staying hydrated in flight and after landing.

  • Animal bites and stings

    • Arizona is home to numerous dangerous animals:  rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, scorpions, tarantulas, and others.

    • Respect the wildlife, and keep your distance.  Watch where you step and sit.  If bitten/stung, seek medical attention.

    • September is snake season. If bitten, do not use a tourniquet or attempt to suck out the venom.  Clean the area of the bite, remove jewelry, and seek immediate medical attention.

    • Scorpion stings cause pain, and sometimes numbness or tingling at the site, and may be treated with cool compresses and over the counter pain medications.  If symptoms of an allergic reaction occur, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Cactus 

    • Treat embedded cactus needles as you would splinters. Remove with tweezers or duct tape. If you meet a cholla, isolate the affected area to avoid having the hair-like needles move to your hands or face.

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