Pakistan is blessed by nature with a large number of mountains and peaks, which range amongst the highest in the world. Many expeditions are, therefore, attracted by the lure of challenge of scaling these summits. These mountaineers risk their lives because they have confidence in Pakistan's ability to provide them with the support required, for their expedition.
Most of the services are coordinated and provided by respective tour operators, while Aero-medical Evacuation facilities are extended by Pakistan Army Aviation. To ensure desired response and safe casualty evacuation, it is important that everyone involved must clearly understand his responsibilities and act accordingly, maintaining complete calm, to save lives in emergency. This requires briefing of expedition members, issue of necessary instructions and equipment, placing of resources, passing of expeditious and sufficient information for planning, and finally smooth execution of rescue to save precious lives.
To coordinate rescue facilities in Northern Areas ensuring minimum response time with optimum effectiveness the responsibilities of coordination have been assigned to Askari Aviation (Pvt) Limited (AAL). Askari Aviation a subsidiary of Army Welfare Trust, is established to provide quality services in the field of aviation to private and public sector. It is manned and operated by retired Aviators from Pakistan Army Aviation, who have served all along their career operating in Northern Areas of Pakistan and providing evacuation services to mountaineers. As a disciplined organization, they perfectly understand essence of responsibility and importance of time. Their personal experience, therefore, will be of immense value to coordinate between mountaineering expeditions and Army Aviation, to achieve the objective with desired results.
To provide Rescue Services Askari Aviation is backed by fleet of Pakistan Army aircraft. Helicopters required for rescue are pre--positioned by Army Aviation in general area of mountaineering expedition area of activity, to achieve desired response time. The essential elements for reliable rescue operations, therefore, are:-
- Knowledge and information of all the mountaineering expedition visiting Pakistan.
- Areas of activities of respective expeditions, with planned activities.
- Strength of respective teams, experience, physical conditions and equipment they are carrying.
- Briefing of expeditions on rescue facilities available in the area. Demand procedures and preparations to be made to receive the Helicopter.
- Availability of necessary equipment i.e. Markers, windsock, smoke grenades, communication set etc, and information for execution of rescue operation.
- Completion of all legal and security requirements to avoid delay and complication on occurrence, i.e. deposit of security, signing of indemnity bond etc by respective teams.
- Essential information to be communicated on occurrence, for speedy response and safe evacuation.
- Preparation to be made by respective team on occurrence to receive helicopter, ensuring desired safety and safe evacuation.
- Preparation of bills/claims and clearance of dues within 7 days as per GHQ instructions.
- Recovery of rescue helicopter handling kits and refund of security deposit to respective expeditions not utilizing rescue services during their stay in Pakistan.
RESCUE GENERAL INFORMATION
Considering the resources available and area of activity to be covered, rescue service must be centrally placed to ensure timely intimation and minimum response time. Pakistan Army Aviation resources are, therefore, located accordingly covering the complete area of mountaineering team activities. This can be further backed by Askari Aviation's integral resources or additional Army Aviation assets if any visiting expedition so desires, to cover their activity during critical phases. Weather permitting and meeting safety condition, AAL will even be willing to consider placing of limited rescue services at site for day hours, if economically acceptable to the expedition.
Existing aviation rescue resources are placed and ba follows:- LOCATION AIRCRAFTS SKARDU ALT-III, LAMA, MI-17 GILGIT MI-17, PUMA RAWALPINDI LAMA, ALTIII, MI-17, PUMA Respectively.
All teams visiting Pakistan as per existing Government policy will be required to deposit US$ 6,000 or provide guarantee of respective embassies to Askari Aviation to clear dues within 7 days. Respective tour operators, however, may provide guarantee for clearance of bill above security deposit, to avoid last minute delays. No payment to any : except Askari Aviation be made for provision of aviation rescue services in Pakistan.
Askari Aviation will give detailed briefing to all the teams on arrival on rescue services and issue a kit, holding minimum essential equipment for guidance and reception of helicopter in emergency. Will also collect essential information on respective expedition i.e. strength, area of activity, peak days of activity, tour operator, equipment available like wireless set, smoke grenade etc. and ensure signing of indemnity bond by expedition members to provide rescue services in emergency.
Intimation on all the teams covered for rescue services, with their area of operation and peak days of activity, will be intimated to rescue centers in Gilgit & Skardu by Askari Aviation.
On occurrence of any emergency respective team must Intimate through quickest available means, to any of the following persons, with as much detail as possible, to coordinate response for desired assistance to save life in emergency.
Expedition meeting emergency above safe operational landing height of rescue helicopter i.e. 5,500 M, must make an effort to recover casualty to safe heights and intimate location accordingly.
On receipt of information at rescue headquarter the mission will be flown subject to weather and safety requirements, provided the expedition has deposited the security charges or provided the guarantee from respective embassy, and has signed the indemnity bond specimen attached at the end.
On completion of rescue, bill for flying charges and additional services during their stay in Pakistan will be recovered by AAL within 7 days and cleared in 15 days at the latest.
Expeditions not utilizing rescue services during their stay in Pakistan will collect refund from AAL, on return and before leaving the country.
All expeditions will be responsible to return the rescue kits provided to them before leaving Pakistan.
It must be kept in mind that all rescue operations above the height of 4000m, are conducted in pairs i.e., Lama, Alt-III helicopter, due to safety reason and lack of communication in the area.
All charges will be according to rates given at the end, and jacking up or re-quoting of charges is not permitted by any intermediaries.
Rescue services are being provided to visiting expenditure on subsidized rates as a goodwill measure.
Rescue Request Demand. All expeditions are requested to make an effort to provide maximum details possible under the condition, to assist rescue teams for safe and successful execution of their mission.
Rescue Execution. On receipt of rescue demand at Skardu the mission on clearance will be undertaken subject conditions:- .
- Receipt of rescue request demand will be considered final authority from the client, and, thereafter all flying generated for the purpose will be payable by the expedition.
- Subject to weather and meeting safety requirements. All rescue operations will be planned between first light & half an hour before sunset landing at base i.e. Skardu/Gilgit.
- All possible efforts must be made by respective expedition to prepare helicopter landing sites wherever possible as per specification provided, and assist in terminal guidance on arrival of helicopter, details of hand signals and ground-air emergency code are given in the ground codessection.
- Till the arrival of helicopter, respective expeditions are expected to provide essential first aid to the casualty, undertake essential preparation for evacuation of casualty by air. It must be kept in mind in Lama/Alt-III, no medical assistance is possible during transportation due to height limitation.
- Expeditions are expected to provide accurate location of helipad and bring casualty to or below the safe height, i.e., 5,500m ensuring clear space for helicopter to approach the helipad with no loose material around the helipad like tent etc.
- On arrival of helicopter, minimum time must be taken by the expedition in loading/boarding of the casualty, due to fuel and height restriction in the area. It will not be possible to switch off the helicopter because of restarting problems and safety limitations.
- In case of casualties more than the lifting capability of respective helicopter, crew must be informed for return of helicopter and preparation made accordingly by expedition.
- No heating and inflammable material is allowed to be placed with the casualty or permitted to be transported on the helicopter.
- Often it may not be possible to place casualty in stretcher at those heights, so the casualty may be placed on floor till descend to safe heights.
- Primarily all rescue operation is planned till Skardu/Gilgit, however, if desired by the expedition, the services may be extended till Islamabad subject to the availability of helicopter.
Rescue Helicopter Handling Kit Standard.
- Orange cloth letter "H", Orange color windsock and rod, and signaling mirror.
- Smoke grenade and wireless set.
Preparation of Helipad
- No obstacles, tents etc are on the approach path within 100 meters of touch down point.
- Should be free of pebbles.
- Should be prominently marked by lime or orange colored letter 'H'.
- Should display a prominent windsock of orange color located well clear of the helipad and to one-side of the final approach.
Use of Signaling Mirror
Tips for Survival in Snow
- Keep snow and frost off your clothes, tents, boots, sleeping bags etc. Keep your clothing as dry as possible. Check for frost bite.
- Tramp out signals in snow. Fill them with boughs, sod, moss, or fluorescent dye water.
- Remember sound does not carry well through snow.
- Avoid sleeping on bare ground or directly on the snow. Provide some sort of insulation under yourself.
- Don't camp at the base of slopes or cliffs where snow may drift heavily or come down in avalanches.
- Avoid sweating - it's dangerous because it leads to freezing. Wear clothes loosely.
- Avoid fatigue. Get enough sleep. Stop worrying; learn to take it easy.
- Remember that in snow the chief danger is freezing. Snow blindness andcarbon monoxide poisoning are secondary dangers.
- Never touch cold metal with your bare skin, you will freeze to the metal and tear away the skin.
UNDERTAKING – HELICOPTER RESCUE SERVICES
I hereby undertake to pay the Askari Aviation (Pvt)Ltd. all the charges arising out of assistance/services provided to my expedition for resource in emergency, and are over and above my security deposit.
I have accepted the terms and conditions of provision of rescue services and signed on ______________, before proceeding on expedition/mission.Such amount will be determined exclusively by Askari Aviation (Pvt)Ltd. and will become payable immediately on utilization of services.
NAME OF LEADER ______________________________________________________
DATE AND PLACE OF ISSUE_____________________________________________
NAME OF EXPEDITION___________________________________________________
Do hereby guarantee and undertake to pay and clear all the charges of Askari Aviation (Pvt)Ltd. against
Mr./Expedition __________________________________________________________In case of his/their failure of clearing of dues, it is further confirmed that this guarantee is being made severally and jointly.
Ground-Air Emergency Codes