Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue

Rega for kids

Would you like to solve puzzles, colour in pictures or do some art & craft activities? Then you’re in the right place here! We wish you much fun when passing the time in the world of Rega’s rescue helicopters and ambulance jets.

Questions to our helicopter pilot

Alex Itin, helicopter pilot at the Rega base in Zurich, answers questions from children.

Is it difficult to fly a helicopter?

Alexia (3) Osco (TI)

It’s difficult at first. You learn step by step with a flight instructor, then it gets easier as time goes on.

To save time, do you also have to sit in the helicopter when there is no mission?

Noam (5) Tramelan (BE)

No, we can get out of the helicopter and wait at the helicopter base. But if there is a mission, we immediately head for the helicopter. As a result, after being called out by the Rega Operations Centre, it is only two or three minutes until we are airborne. Sometimes the alarm sounds during lunch – then we just have to leave our meal where it is and take off in the helicopter immediately.

Are you sometimes afraid when you’re flying?

Tiziano (11) Monthey (VS)

No, I feel safe in the helicopter. The entire crew is extremely well trained. We all frequently take part in training exercises, have a great deal of experience and operate highly modern, well maintained rescue helicopters. We trust each other and can rely on each other 100 percent.

What time does a Rega helicopter pilot normally get up?

Moritz (9) Vaduz (FL)

It depends. If we're called out during the night, I might have to get up at 2 o’clock in the morning. If there is no mission, usually I get up at 7am. The whole crew then meets at 8am for the morning briefing.

Do you also rescue animals?

Lowenna (10) Bennwil (BL)

Yes. Every year, our Operations Centre organises around 1,200 transports for cattle or other farm animals that are sick, injured or sometimes unfortunately already dead. These flights are performed by commercial helicopter companies on behalf of Rega. That allows our rescue helicopters to always be available when people require our help.

Why don’t you stop off in my garden when you fly past my house?

Mika (4) Saignelégier (JU)

When we are in the air, someone urgently needs our help – for example, because they are ill or have had an accident. So we have to fly to this person as quickly as possible and help him. For this reason, unfortunately we can’t land in your garden and visit you. But you can wave to us if you see us flying past!

What is the small rotor at the back of the helicopter for?

Josselin (7) Bottens (VD)

That is the tail rotor. Without it, the helicopter would rotate around its axis as soon as the main rotor − that is the big rotor on top of the helicopter − picks up speed. We wouldn’t be able to fly like that, because it would make us all feel really ill. The tail rotor prevents this from happening and I can turn the helicopter around its own axis in a slow and controlled manner. I use foot pedals to control the tail rotor – for example, if I press down with my right foot, the helicopter turns to the right, and with my left foot, it turns to the left.

Is the helicopter washed like a car? And how often?

Lynn (9) and Nino (7) Rafz (ZH)

Yes, we wash the Rega rescue helicopter regularly, both inside and out, so that it is always clean and I can see clearly through the windscreen. We give the exterior a thorough cleaning at least once a week together as a crew. The interior is cleaned after every use and depending on how dirty it is.

How many people can fly in the Rega helicopter at the same time?

Jan (5) Jonschwil (SG)

Up to five people. Three of them are crew members: the paramedic, emergency physician and pilot. In addition, we can transport one patient − or two with one lying and the other sitting.

 

Why is the Rega helicopter allowed to land in the middle of the road?

Daniel (6) Maienfeld (GR)

We try to land as close as possible to the patient. Then we don’t have to walk very far and can help the casualty more quickly. Sometimes the police close off a landing site for us. This is why we sometimes also land on the road or on a sports field.

What do you do if it’s too steep to land the helicopter?

Emilia (5) and Valentina (3) Jonschwil (SG)

Then we use the rescue hoist. This is a metal cable with a motor, which is mounted above the door on the side of the Rega helicopter. The emergency flight physician is suspended on the end of the rescue hoist and lowered to the patient. This method also enables us to come to the aid of injured mountain climbers, for example. 

Here you can find a video about the rescue hoist.

Do you always fly the same helicopter?

Margaux (7) Gampelen (BE)

I don’t always fly exactly the same machine, but it is always the same helicopter type: an Airbus Helicopters H145. Rega has seven of them in all. When “our” helicopter from the Rega base in Zurich needs to go to the workshop for maintenance, I fly a replacement helicopter.

 

How does the pilot know what all the buttons are for?

Leo (8) Courtemaîche (JU)

When you train to become a helicopter pilot, you have to learn a lot and practise flying with an instructor. During these numerous flight hours, you learn exactly what all the buttons and levers are for. It’s a bit like driving a car: after a time and with some practice, you know where the indicator is, how to lower the windows and how to operate the navigation system.

 

Where is the helicopter’s engine?

Josselin (7) Bottens (VD)

The engine is mounted on top of the cabin. All Rega helicopters actually have two engines. This increases safety when we are out on a mission, because if one engine fails, we could still continue flying with the second one.

How much time passes between the alarm being sounded and the helicopter or jet taking off?

Alessandra (11) Landquart (GR)

With a helicopter, it’s a matter of just a few minutes. As soon as an alarm call comes in, we immediately stop whatever we’re doing – even if we’re in the middle of breakfast. So we’re usually in the air within two or three minutes. It’s a bit different when it comes to missions with the Rega ambulance jets. The patients abroad are already in hospital and the Operations Centre arranges for them to be flown home, so they usually have a little more time. If it’s really urgent, the ambulance jet crews can be airborne within two hours.

Questions to our flight physician

Nadine Nieuwkamp, flight physician on the Rega ambulance jet, answers the children's questions.

Are there many women who are flight physicians?

Léa (9) Chessel (VD)

Yes, we women make up about half of Rega’s team of flight physicians. We also have some women working as nurses and in the cockpit. Rega currently employs four female jet pilots. So as you can see, you’d be in good company with us.

Did you ever have a particularly funny flight?

Darian (9) Stans (NW) 

Once we flew to southern Italy to bring two patients from two different places back to Switzerland. The first patient was already on board when we loaded the second one into the ambulance jet. Then suddenly we heard a loud “hello!” – it turned out that at home these two ladies were neighbours. Despite their health problems, they enjoyed the return flight together and laughed so much that they made us laugh, too.

How many people can be looked after in the air ambulance?

Luca (8) Penthalaz (VD)

Our jet has room for up to four patients lying down. To ensure that they always receive the best possible medical care, they are looked after by our medical crew during the entire flight. This always comprises at least two people, a flight physician and an intensive care nurse.

Do you have all the medications that they have in hospital on board the ambulance jet?

Margaux (7) Gampelen (BE)

Yes, on the jet we have the same medication available as in a hospital. Most of all, we need different kinds of painkillers. This enables the patients to be as pain-free as possible during the flight.

How many people work on board the aircraft?

Alek (8) Lamboing (BE)

That depends on the mission. However, there are always at least four of us. Two pilots are needed to fly the jet. Then there is a flight physician and an intensive care nurse. For long-haul flights, we require a larger crew – sometimes there are four pilots, who take turns in flying the jet.

How bad does an injury have to be for Rega to fetch a patient?

Jean Luc, Zürich (ZH)

It depends not only on the severity of the patient’s injury or illness, but also on the circumstances in which they find themself. How good is the medical care on location? Are there any relatives there too? In order to clarify questions such as these, and because each case is different, a Rega medical consultant always talks to the patients, any relatives, and the local doctors. In consultation with the Operations Centre, the medical consultant then decides the best way to help the patient. Besides transport in a Rega jet, there is also the option of bringing a patient back home on a scheduled flight, accompanied by a Rega flight physician or intensive care nurse.

How fast can the Rega jet fly?

Noé (6) Pringy (FR)

The Rega ambulance jet is very fast: it can fly up to 850 kilometres an hour. The fastest bird in the world, the peregrine falcon, can reach speeds of up to 300 km/h when diving towards its prey. So we can get to places abroad very quickly.

 

Is it possible to perform an operation in a jet?

Paul (7) Vaduz (FL)

No. Operating on someone during the flight would be too dangerous. Occasionally we feel some turbulence in the cabin, so it would be impossible to operate then. However, we can make sure that our patients are well looked after throughout the flight. For example, if necessary we can inject them with a medication. We also check that the pulse and blood pressure are okay and whether there is enough oxygen in the blood.

Do you fly to every country?

Leonie (12) Wilderswil (BE)

Yes, providing that it is safe for the crew and that we can we can land there. The Rega flight coordinators check this before every mission. If we can’t fly to a particular country, we still do our best to help the patient. For example, by organising transport by ambulance to a neighbouring country, where we are allowed to land the Rega jet.

Do you need special training to be a flight physician or can any doctor become one?

Paul (7) Vaduz (FL)

First, you have to spend around six years studying medicine to become a doctor. Then you have to qualify as a specialist in either anaesthetics or intensive care medicine. Then you will have gained enough experience working in hospitals to be able to apply for a job with us.

What do you need to take with you on your missions?

Albert (5) Haslen

The basic equipment – such as various medicines, respirators and monitoring machines – is always on board the jet. Depending on the mission, we also take some additional equipment. We also need enough food and drink for both patients and crew. When we go to fetch a child, we also take with us a Rega jet soft toy as a gift.

If I was seriously ill or had had an accident, would you take my whole family, too?

Chiara (8) Kairo Ägypten

That depends on how big your family is. If we had enough room, we would take your parents and all your brothers and sisters. However, sometimes we don’t have enough space because, for example, we have another patient on board. But even then, we would take at least your father or mother with us. So you would never have to fly by yourself.

What are the tasks of the flight physician?

Fabio (8), Sandro (6) and Larina (3) Rorschacherberg (SG)

Together with the intensive care nurse, my job is to look after the patient. For example, we make sure that he is in as little pain as possible and that he is comfortable. During the flight, we take good care of him and regularly check his pulse. If he suddenly gets worse, we can react immediately.

 

Do you also hang up pictures or drawings in the ambulance jet?

Raphael (3) Maienfeld (GR)

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough space to hang up any drawings in the jet. But we do have very many pictures that have been sent to us by children on the walls in our offices. They are really lovely and we are always delighted to receive them.

Rega puzzles

Solve puzzles and work out problems: we have compiled for you the best brain-teasers from past Rega magazines.

PDF: Rega puzzle

Colouring pictures

Coloured pencils at the ready: download our colouring pictures now and give some colour to the rescue scenes featuring our rescue helicopters and the ambulance jet.

PDF: Colouring pictures

Craft and game ideas

You may need the help of your parents for these craft and game ideas. Have fun!

PDF: Craft and game ideas

Rega as a topic for your schoolwork

Would you like to do a school project on Rega? Or give a presentation about our organisation? In the "Rega at school" section, you can find useful information, tips and theme suggestions.

Rega at school

Images, videos and feature articles

Click your way through impressive pictures and immerse yourself in fascinating videos and articles about Rega.

Rega in words and pictures