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Annual Press Conference 2012

More Rega missions than ever before

Ambulance jet Challenger CL-604

In 2011, Swiss Air-Rescue performed a total of 14,240 missions – never before has it been in such great demand by the Swiss population. In 1953, a year after it was founded, just six rescue operations were carried out. Nowadays, on average the rescue helicopters are called out around 30 times a day. This service, which is provided to people in distress around the clock 365 days a year, is possible thanks to the invaluable support of Rega’s patrons.

Exactly 60 years ago, on 27 April 1952, Swiss Air-Rescue was founded in the Hotel Bären in Twann, on Lake Biel. With their pioneering spirit and innovations, the first air rescuers laid the foundation stone for the now 60-year-old Rega. This spirit still lives on and Swiss Air-Rescue Rega will continue to play a pioneering role in the future.

Increase in the number of missions

“In 2011, we organised 14,240 rescue missions – that is more than ever before. This goes to show just how great public demand is for our air rescue services,” says Ernst Kohler, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board at Rega. The rescue helicopters were in operation on 10,797 occasions, more frequently than at any other time in the organisation's history. While the number of missions in response to avalanche accidents fell, those relating to illnesses and accidents increased. To some extent, this can be explained by the favourable weather conditions, particularly as regards sports and Alpine accidents. Never before has Rega flown so many primary missions. On these occasions, the crews transport emergency medical assistance direct to the scene of the accident. Furthermore, at 2,083 missions, the number of flights carried out at night also reached an all-time high in 2011.

Rega's three ambulance jets were called out 698 times; that is four operations fewer than in 2010. A total of 147 patients were flown back to Switzerland on scheduled flights, accompanied by Rega medical teams. These figures deviate only marginally from those recorded the previous year. In contrast, medical emergency management – telemedical advice and assistance to patients abroad – registered a decrease due to similar services being offered by other organisations.

Loyal patrons

Almost 2.4 million patrons support Rega. As a result, it is able to accomplish its task without receiving any funds from the Swiss government or burdening the taxpayer. “We are only able to provide this service to people in distress thanks to our loyal patrons,” emphasises CEO Ernst Kohler. The patrons form the backbone of Swiss Air-Rescue and, with their annual contributions, make possible its round-the-clock stand-by service, its dense rescue network and its future-oriented investments in material and infrastructure.

Particularly gratifying is the 3.7% increase in the number of patrons registered during the past year, amounting to 86,000 new patrons. This is equivalent to the population of Biel, Kloten and Bellinzona put together. Unfortunately, Rega is required to pay VAT on these patronage contributions to the amount of CHF 5.5 million per annum, which is equivalent to 185,000 “Individual” patronages. In October 2011, the Federal Supreme Court upheld the ruling that Rega should be subject to VAT. Swiss Air-Rescue is actively fighting against this obligation through political channels; a parliamentary initiative is currently pending.

60 years. Thanks to you.

“In this, our jubilee year, we would like to say thank you – to our patrons, partners and the members of the public,” says Ernst Kohler. For this reason, Rega is opening its doors to the public at the Rega Centre at Zurich-Kloten Airport on 28 and 29 April. Open Days are also being held at Rega’s lowland bases on the following dates: Lausanne base on 9 June, Berne base in Belp on 23 June, Zurich base in Dübendorf on 7 July 2012. In Basel, Rega will be greeting the public on 18 August 2012 in the city centre, at Barfüsserplatz. In addition, Swiss Air-Rescue is pleased to present to the public its brand new film, “Rega close up”.

Documents relating to the press conference:

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