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Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue

The operational possibilities open up

The rescue helicopters and the ambulance-jets used for repatriating patients from abroad are increasingly regarded as an effective means of rescue. Operations that previously were impossible or took days to carry out can now be performed within a matter of hours. While mountainous regions still remain the main scene of action, the rescue helicopter is used more and more to deal with road accidents. New rescue techniques are developed; the principle of bringing emergency aid to the patient as swiftly as possible takes root. Swiss Air-Rescue breaks away from the SLRG and is now finally an autonomous organisation.

1960

19 March: With the assistance of Fritz Bühler as Technical Director, Swiss Air-Rescue completely breaks away from the SLRG and is reorganised. The Swiss Air-Rescue Association (SRFW) is founded.

The helicopter plays an increasingly important role in the sphere of air rescue. The Hiller 306 and Bell 47G2 models that were initially used are replaced with more modern machines with an improved flight performance.

In May, Swiss Air-Rescue carries out its very first repatriation flight. A patient is flown on board a Piaggio 166 fixed-wing aircraft from Châlons-sur-Marne (now known as Châlons-en-Champagne) in France back home to Switzerland.

1965

1 March: The Swiss Federal Council passes a resolution appointing Swiss Air-Rescue as an auxiliary organisation of the Swiss Red Cross.

1966

In September, Swiss Air-Rescue holds its first international helicopter symposium on the Eiger glacier. The rescue line and the horizontal net, used for rescuing injured people from inaccessible places where it is impossible for a helicopter to land, are presented to the delegates.

The running costs of carrying out rescue operations by helicopter gradually exceed Swiss Air-Rescue’s resources. After the Swiss Government rejects his application for support from public funds, Fritz Bühler appeals to the public for help. As a token of gratitude for a donation of CHF 20, Swiss Air-Rescue offers free assistance by air in cases of emergency. The appeal meets with a gratifying response; the patronage system, which has fundamentally remained unchanged to this day, is born.

1968

6 August: A fatal accident occurs in the Urbachtal. A gamekeeper, who had offered to assist with a rescue operation, dies when he falls around 30 metres from the button seat on the end of the rescue line.

20 December: Swiss Air-Rescue puts into operation its first helicopter with turbo-jet propulsion, a Bell 206 A Jet Ranger with the registration number HB-XCU.