Wow where do I begin. We use the School's football field that will hold 3 birds at a time (if needed), the local horse club that will hold 3, and the County Fair Grounds will hold about 4 or 5 (if we're lucky). We also use many of the farmer's fields that are in the area. The football field is our primary LZ, because of no wires, no problem with trees, and except for the fall no problem with goal posts. We use the cones during the day and usually flares at night. In May we had a lot of practice with setting up an LZ. We had 10-12 birds come in that month. Usually we only get about 3-4 birds a year.
In the rural parts of our county, the LZs are set up by facing apparatus at eachother a 4 different points. When the chopper pilot turns his landing lights on, the apparatus turn theirs off. It has seemed to work fairly well. On my career department, we use collapsable cones that have an LED light on top of them. They even work well during the day.
We have used cones, but most of the time we use flares. We been lucky and have not started any grass fires. The last LZ class that I went to the pilot said that flares were good, he could see them and the smoke from them helped him tell the wind direction. There was a company there that had LED lights, they set them up when he left (it was at night). They requested that he let them know how they worked, he flew over and said that he could see the red and orange but not the blue. But it seems that every time I go to a class or talk to the pilot I get a different answer. As far as the terrain, we use what ever is in the area. The road, grass field, parking lot (when it was empty), ball field and a corn field after the corn has been cut down. They didn't like the corn field said that there was to much stuff blowing around when they landed. When you land them in a field you have make sure that the ground is solid. One department near here landed Life Flight in a grass field, it sank in so deep on one side that the blades almost touched the ground. It sat there for a day or two till they got a crane to lift it out.
We mostly use fields, that's really all we have, there are no parking lots, local schools, etc in our area so a hayfield is usually the easiest and safest bet. But when a field isn't available and we absolutely have to we will land them in the road. As far as lighting goes thankfully we've never had to land one at night, we have flares to use at night though.
About once a year our local service holds a one hour power point and an outside live drill for all who want to be certified in landing zone protocol. They tell us how and why and what to use as sights and markers. On scene, it is generally understood that those at the sight will be those who have been through it. As soon as an OIC calls for "Starflight" and designates a landing zone sight, the dispatcher automatically dispatches an engine company from another department, with no other connection to the job, to set up and be responsible only for the landing zone. Coordinating your concerns with your flight crews might work well. Works well here.
We use cones during the day time. At night, we use turboflares. The LED's can be seen for several miles from the air, but they are not intense enough to interfere with the pilots night vision. The low profile helps keep them in place, and there is no danger of fire. We use 4 red on the corners of the LZ, and blue to mark the wind direction.
When we land a bird, we will almost never put them in a pasture or field unless there is not a suitable place on the roadway. We also have 10 "predesignated" LZs including at one station for situations where it is safer to set them there and transport the patient to them. Having flight experience and knowing the pilots helps. In 22 years, I've had an LZ denied by the pilot twice.
We use the nearest open feild or big yard. Primarily if we have time we will put them at the township park and can fit 4 birds at once.
To mark the area we use 4 cones durring the day and at night we use battery powered electronic traffic flares. I finally got to ask a recent flight crew what they thought about the flares we use and they loved them. They have a steady on and a flash parren and we put them on steady for the LZ. Only about $10 a peice from Galls i think and we put 5 on both engines and the squad. We had some small tackle boxes donated from Flambeau to keep them in.
I like the idea of a certified program. Here it is most likely a chief, but there is no training requirements. If there is a MVA our county automatically notifies Life Flight of the possible
Being in rural area and having no paved lots/yards or wide highways for LZs, my VFD uses pastures/fields. We usually park an appartus on all four LZ outer boundries and under any power wires. All the apparatus' emergency lights are on so the helo can spot the LZ and if dark, when the helo spots the LZ, we then tone the lights down. The pilots we deal with want no cones nearby because of their FOD possiblities just like hats which are not allowed near the LZ either, helmets with straps are OK. We even have a portable windsock which some of the pilots don't want because of FOD. We tie bright thin plastic tape to our aerials for wind direction. I think the windsock is better and safer. Some depts in our area use a 3'X3' heavy steel plate laid on the LZ center which is painted flouresant orange on one side for daylight ops and white for night. TCSS