High Altitude Emergencies: How modern equipment is saving lives!


The arrival of high-altitude helicopters in the Himalayan peaks has transformed search-and-­rescue and saved lives. Rescue teams are setting new standards by performing some of the highest altitude longline rescues ever completed.

Often in an emergency situation there may become a time when conventional, ground-based evacuation techniques are not feasible. Longline rescue is specifically designed for remote operations in rugged terrain, where traditional evacuation methods and medical services would take too long or are simply not practical. The system is often also referred to as "Short Haul" and there are other terms also used to describe helicopter long line systems in use throughout the world.

To date the highest rescue achieved occurred in May 2013. The Simone Moro and Maurizio Folini's crew set the record for the highest long-line operation on the Himalayas, at a height of 7.000 meters.

The Longline system has multiple components which ultimately safely suspend a rescuer under the helicopter . The components include:

Belly Band

A strap which is fitted through the cabin of the aircraft (encircling the aircraft structure) that provides a secondary point of attachment and release. This adds the redundancy the system requires. Release is achieved with an integrated quick release device, similar to that used on parachutes.


The Y-lanyard connects the belly band and the aircraft electric release hook to the main load line.

Load Line

The main load line is a high visibility, low-stretch, aeronautically approved rope used to suspend the load under the aircraft.


The rescue harness is the ultimate point of attachment for rescuers to the system.

Aerial Rescue Platform (ARP)

The aerial rescue platform is used to carry an injured patient.

However, there will always be a need for specialized teams of mountaineers that would be able to perform rescues at altitudes and in weather conditions that are impossible for helicopters.

Being able to easily manage and track your equipment is one of the reasons we created D4H Equipment Manager designed especially for response teams. We're always interested in anything that aids responders in improving your capabilities.

Robert Charles

[D4H] Technologies

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