- Scene safety is the most important part of any rescue.
- Approach cautiously, asking yourself if you could fall victim to the same hazard and thinking about how you can make your approach safer.
- Beware of loose gear, especially if a helicopter rescue is planned.
Making the scene safe is critical when responding to an accident. A safe scene prevents further injury to the casualty and avoids any more casualties amongst the group. Even if you only make the scene safe and do nothing else, you will still have been a huge help to the injured participant and to the rescuers.
Stop as you approach the casualty and think about why the accident happened. Could it happen again?
Look at the casualty, the environment and the rescuers. What hazards are still out there? For example, are there canopy lines everywhere? Are there loose rocks, powerlines or strong turbulence? Is the ground steep or slippery? Are the rescuers exhausted, cold or wet?
For example, for a paraglider still in the air, keeping yourself safe could mean deciding not to land at all. Alternatively, you might judge it best to land at a distance and then approach the casualty on foot.
Depending on the situation, there may be a number of ways to make your approach safer. Try to consciously think about these before you rush to help. If you are in a group, then think out loud so others can share their own ideas or concerns. For example, perhaps you should take a longer route around the hill to avoid a cliff edge? Should you all keep your helmets on? Should only some of the group go forward and the others hang back? Will you need to tie the casualty onto anything to secure them when you arrive?
Don’t forget to control your gear. Loose canopies, reserve parachutes and lines can be a considerable hazard. Deal with loose equipment early. Detach and stow the injured participant’s gear or weigh it down with rocks. Think too about the rest of the group’s gear. Others may have rushed to the scene leaving their gear half-unpacked. Once they get to the casualty, they will become very focused and may not notice the wind rising, or the approach of a helicopter.