Swiss Air-Rescue’s ever growing number of patrons enable the densest air-rescue network in the world to be gradually built up and operated. State-of-the-art helicopters and air-ambulances, specially designed to perform missions both in Switzerland and all over the globe, are procured Training is standardised and professionalised. Despite this, Rega – as Swiss Air-Rescue is now known – does not let up: it continually strives to ensure maximum safety during missions and at the same time to provide the patient with the best possible medical care. Nowadays, Rega is regarded as a highly valuable, credible and professional rescue organisation.
Air-rescue is professionalised
23 August: The Chairman of Swiss Air-Rescue’s Foundation Board, Dr. med. h.c. Fritz Bühler, passes away totally unexpectedly at the age of 72.
28 September: What is arguably Rega’s most spectacular rescue operation takes place high above Yverdon airfield. As a parachutist leaves the Pilatus Turbo Porter aircraft, his parachute becomes entangled in the tail wheel. The crew of a Swiss Air-Rescue helicopter achieve the «impossible» by freeing the parachutist while the plane is still in the air. On 20 January 1981 in Los Angeles (USA), pilot Andreas Haefele, hoist operator Adolf Rüfenacht and parachute instructor Pierre Jomini are named «Crew of the Year» in recognition of this astounding feat.
At its meeting of delegates on 13 June, the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) votes in favour of accepting Rega as a corporate member.
21 October: The Swiss Disaster Relief Unit, the Swiss Army Rescue Troops, the Swiss Disaster Dog Association and Swiss Air-Rescue resolve to jointly provide immediate emergency aid in the event of earthquakes. This «Swiss Rescue Chain» is tested in an exercise in Wangen an der Aare.
20 May: The brand new Rega air-ambulance, a Canadair Challenger CL 600, arrives at Zurich-Kloten Airport. This new aircraft has a considerably greater range and is more spacious than the jets Rega has operated to date.
13 December: The Swiss Rescue Chain, formed in 1981, goes into operation for the first time to assist in an earthquake disaster in North Yemen.
13 March: Using the rescue hoists of two Rega helicopters, 80 passengers are evacuated from the four-person cable-car cabins that have come to a standstill on the Scuol/Motta Naluns cableway in the Lower Engadin.
30 October: The Swiss Rescue Chain is called out after the Erzurum region in Turkey suffers a violent earthquake. A physician from the Swiss Disaster Relief Unit, a Rega operation coordinator and two disaster dog teams are despatched to Eastern Turkey on behalf of the Disaster Relief Unit.
7 March: The new Rega jet Challenger CL-600 HB-VFW is christened «Fritz Bühler» in honour of the great pioneer of Swiss Air-Rescue.
1 November: Rega moves its offices and Operations Center to Mainaustrasse 21 in Zurich.
8 June: Rega’s St. Gallen helicopter base in Gossau is officially inaugurated.
20 June: Rega charters a large-size helicopter, a Super Puma, to transport nine disaster dog teams to Stava (Italy), where a dam has been damaged.
23 August: Rega issues its one millionth patronage card.
10 September: Federal Councillor Dr. Leon Schlumpf officially opens the International Air-Rescue Congress Airmed 85, an event organised by Rega, at the Swiss Federal College of Technology in Zurich.
5 June: The Mexican government presents the «Brigada de Rescate de Suiza» (Rega) with a special award as a token of gratitude for its emergency assistance after the earthquake in Mexico City in September 1985.
17 September: The Foundation Board decides to replace the two Learjet air-ambulances with two BAe 125-800B aircraft.
Rega is the first non-military organisation in the world to equip all of its helicopter bases with night-vision goggles.
Two new ambulance jets replace the pair of Lear-35 aircraft. The larger cabin and longer range improve the services for patients.