Text & Pictures: Serge van Oosterzee  © sbap 2013

Rescue helicopter PGHM Chamonix-Mont-Blanc – August 2013
Rescue operations by air are spread between helicopters of ‘Sécurité Civile’ and ‘Gendarmerie’.
The Gendarmerie team in charge of such rescue is the PGHM (Peloton Gendarmerie Haute Montagne).
They perform around 1400 rescue operations per year and are flying above 4000 meters high.
On 15/08/13 a life demonstration was performed at the end of the day on the Galand site in the Chamonix valley near the Mont-Blanc.
The demo consists of 2 members of the PGHM playing the role of the victims on the cliff. The helicopter performed the rescue in 3 pass. The first one to let down one rescue crew member to the first victim (the most injured).
A second pass to take aboard the first victim with the rescue crew member and to let down the second rescue crew member to the second victim. Once the team was in safe situation the last rotation of the helicopter took them aboard. This was very impressive as the helicopter was very close to the cliff. It’s in such situation that you understand that they do a wonderful job and they take care of all of us… This was verified 3 days later (18/08/13) with a very long and spectacular rescue from two Para gliders blocked on the cabin cable of the mont Brevent. This is a very rare accident. The rescue operation took nearly 3 hours.  Once again few helicopter rotations where needed. The first one to allow a first rescue crew member to be attached to the second cabin cable near the victims. It was not an easy operation due to the strong wind on this day. Another rotation dropped a second rescue crew member with a special descent cable system (see white ball on the pictures) to allow the victims to return safely to the ground along this very long cable - certainly more than 200 meters. They have been taken in charge by the ground rescue team. As the wind was very strong it was not safe enough to raise victims and rescue team to the helicopter. The two rescue crew member reached the cabin cable building ‘special forces’ wise… and always under the supervision of the helicopter. Everybody was safe.

Mont Blanc sighseeing with Eurocopter AS 350 B2 Ecureuil F-GHMQ Another one around Chamonix: F-HILL
Eurocopter EC145 from the "Protection Civile" Working in Chamonix area in cooperation with the French Gendarmery
Eurocopter EC145 from the National Gendarmery Start of the demonstration
Members of the PGHM (Peloton Gendarmerie Haute Montagne) playing the victims
The paragliders fun...but not without some risk
Three days later a real intervention Two paragliders blocked on the cabin cable of the Brevent mont

 

Arrival of the first rescuer
Instaling the abseiling cable Abseiling of the paragliders
After three hours, mission accomplished for the EC145 The rescuer going back to the start point

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