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A Lama helicopter with a longline rescues a climber on the Mattertal in the Swiss Alps. @Menno Boermans

This spring season, Air Zermatt of Switzerland and Fishtail Air of Nepal will join forces to provide the first Himalayan standby helicopter rescue service inhistory. From April 24 until June 2, 2010, a Fishtail Air helicopter in the Khumbu area will be manned by a rescue pilot and mountain rescue specialist from Air Zermatt. A second helicopter, flying transport missions in the Dhaulagiri region, also will be on call if needed. In case of an emergency, the team will be able to initiate high-altitude rescue attempts up to 7000 meters within hours of receiving a call.

These professionals will be able to fly a so-called “human sling operation.” Upon arriving at a rescue scene, one specialist will hang from the helicopter on a longline, a rope that can be extended up to 200 meters. After building an anchor and unclipping from the longline, the specialist will examine the patient. The rescuer will maintain contact with the pilot by headset, directing the longline back to his position, then will clip himself and the patient onto the line. Then the helicopter, still dangling the longline, will fly to a level area where a paramedic or doctor is

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