Service navigation



Your cart is empty.

Rega Shop

Language navigation

Change font size


Swiss Air-Rescue Rega, to home page

A day with Rega 14

The sunny Saturday brings the Rega crew from the helicopter base in Zweisimmen five missions that demonstrate the diversity of Rega’s scope of operations: two acute illnesses, an accident at work, a sports accident and an evacuation.

7 am: The sun is on the horizon as the Rega 14 crew begin their working day at the Zweisimmen helicopter base. The sky is blue and the gentle tinkling of cowbells filters in from outside. The kitchen table is set with bread, cheese, butter and honey. Seated around it are the crew for the day: pilot Adrian von Siebenthal, paramedic Peter Lempen and emergency flight physician Jacqueline Leitl. Von Siebenthal starts with the morning briefing: “The weather is good, the air pressure is evenly distributed. The helicopter has come straight from maintenance. We’ve inspected the rescue hoist.” Peter Lempen nods and adds: “The ventilator, the oxygen cylinders and the monitoring device – they’ve all been checked.” “And the emergency backpack is ready,” says Jacqueline Leitl. Even before she finishes the sentence, their smartphones start beeping: an emergency. The crew members put down their coffee cups and head quickly but calmly to the hangar and to the rescue helicopter, which takes off just a few minutes later.

A mountain farmer has raised the alarm: he thinks he may have deep vein thrombosis in his leg. After a short flight, Adrian von Siebenthal sets down the helicopter on the meadow near the mountain hut. Jacqueline Leitl examines the patient and gives the all clear: it is not thrombosis, but probably a trapped nerve. The man is flown to Zweisimmen Hospital and subsequently Rega 14 returns to the base.

Overturned hay loader

Around 20 minutes later, just before 11 am, the next alarm call sounds again. A farmer has had a serious accident near Linter, a hamlet near Frutigen: his transporter with a hay loader has overturned. The crew prepare themselves mentally for a challenging mission. According to the alarm report, the man has suffered serious injuries. He has an open traumatic brain injury and is unconscious. During the flight, only the radio and the noise of the rotor blades can be heard in the cabin. On arriving at the accident scene, with the helicopter skids lightly touching the ground and the rotor blades still turning, the pilot allows the paramedic and emergency flight physician to alight and shortly afterwards lands on the narrow mountain road. The casualty is Samuel Schmid and relatives have already been able to free him from the vehicle. The patient is in a bad state. A large contused laceration on his head is bleeding profusely. He also has severe pain in the area around his cervical spine. However, in the meantime, Samuel Schmid is responsive again. For the first time, the medical crew from Rega 14 can breathe a short sigh of relief. Peter Lempen and Jacqueline Leitl work hand in hand to care for the man: they apply a dressing, monitor his breathing and circulation, and examine him for other injuries and neurological disorders, but fortunately find nothing of concern. They inject Samuel Schmid with a haemostatic and a pain-relieving drug and put a cervical collar on him. Afterwards, they carefully lift the patient onto a vacuum mattress, carry him to the helicopter and load him into the cabin.

Short flight to the Inselspital

While Rega 14 takes off, flies around the Niesen mountain and follows the River Aare towards the Inselspital, the Rega Operations Center at Zurich Airport takes care of all the registration formalities for the patient at the hospital. The route from Frutigen to Bern is quickly covered by the helicopter. Barely 20 minutes later, the helicopter lands on the roof of the Inselspital. The crew take Samuel Schmid to the shock room and hand him over to the medical specialists, who are now responsible for his care. The farewell is brief: “Bye everyone, take care!” Rega 14 takes off and flies back to the base. In the cabin, Jacqueline Leitl is relieved: “Fortunately his condition didn’t get worse. Things could have turned out very differently.”

Evacuation with the rescue hoist

No sooner has the helicopter landed than the next alarm call comes in at 12.30 pm. A young man has taken a tumble at the Wiriehorn bike park and broken his collarbone. It is not possible to land directly next to the patient, so Jacqueline Leitl and Peter Lempen exit the helicopter while it is hovering just above the ground and Adrian von Siebenthal then lands the Da Vinci a short distance away. The biker describes how the accident happened. “I tried to ride around a fence gate because I didn’t want to scratch my new bike. Unfortunately, that idea misfired,” he says ruefully. Jacqueline Leitl administers a painkiller and takes him to the helicopter. The young man is flown to Thun Hospital, after which the crew return to the base. There, everyone goes about their duties once more: the paramedic refuels the helicopter, the emergency physician replenishes the medical supplies, and the pilot records the details of the mission on the computer. Then it is time for lunch: sausage and salad.

At 3.55 pm, the alarm beeps again. Fog and a belt of snow near the Tschentenalp make it impossible for a couple to ascend or descend. Adrian von Siebenthal checks the location on the map. “The terrain is very steep,” he says. “Evacuation will be difficult, so we’ll need to take a rescue specialist with us.” He informs the Operations Center. After a few minutes, the flight coordinator radios in: “You can pick up Franz Baumgartner”. Rega 14 flies to the home of the helicopter rescue specialist from the Swiss Alpine Club SAC and he climbs aboard. The helicopter continues on its way to the stranded couple in the mountains. As it is impossible to land directly next to them, Adrian von Siebenthal looks for a temporary landing site nearby, where emergency flight physician Jacqueline Leitl disembarks. The pilot, paramedic and helicopter rescue specialist remain in the helicopter and subsequently evacuate one person after the other on the rescue hoist. They are set down beside the emergency flight physician with pinpoint accuracy. As both are uninjured, they are able to make their way back down into the valley on their own.

Stroke in a remote farmhouse

Another alarm comes in at 5:16 pm. The suspected cause is “cerebral vascular accident”, which could mean a stroke. Rega 14 flies in the direction of Tschuggen, in the Diemtigtal valley. The landscape is beautiful: a single “Heimetli” – an old, remotely located farmhouse – lies surrounded by meadows. But there is no time to enjoy the scenery. As soon as the helicopter lands, Jacqueline Leitl and Peter Lempen head for the house. Veronika Mast is sitting on the balcony floor, leaning against the railing. Her husband relates: “My wife was sitting reading when she suddenly felt nauseous and dizzy. She has the feeling that one side of her face is numb.” The emergency flight physician asks Veronika Mast to blow out her cheeks. Both cheeks puff out – and there are no other signs of neurological deficiency either. Jacqueline Leitl gives the woman medication for nausea, then the patient is carried to the helicopter on a stretcher and flown to the Inselspital in Bern for a check-up. Back at the base, Jacqueline Leitl refills the medical materials once more, Peter Lempen refuels the rescue helicopter, and Adrian von Siebenthal writes up the mission – the last one of the day.

Additional information