Rega can look back on an extremely busy year: in 2020, the Rega Operations Centre organised 16,273 missions at home and abroad. That is three percent less than the year before. The number of medically escorted patients (11,134, -0.3 %) remained virtually unchanged. On average, the Rega crews came to the assistance of 31 people per day. The number of patients and missions do not concur because, for example, several patients may be transported at the same time or search flights are performed without any patients at all, or because, among other things, the Rega Operations Centre also organises missions for the mountain rescuers from the Swiss Alpine Club SAC and animal transports on behalf of Swiss mountain farmers.
Operations Centre organises more helicopter missions than ever before
The helicopter crews, who take off on missions around the clock from 12 helicopter bases countrywide and one partner base, were in greater demand than in the previous year. With 13,253 (+8.1 %) missions, the Helicopter Operations Centre organised more missions than ever before. Also registering an increase were both the rescue missions at the incident site (7,774, +5.6 %) and the number of transfer flights from one hospital to another (2,614, +9.8 %). Generally speaking, the missions performed by the Rega helicopters are subject to natural fluctuations. The figures for 2020 reflect, among other things, the fine weather in the summer and autumn, as well as the leisure activities of the Swiss population.
Decrease in repatriations
Rega comes to the aid of people in distress not only in Switzerland, but also all over the world. It ensures that patients who have become seriously ill or injured abroad are flown back home to Switzerland on board one of Rega’s three ambulance jets or on a scheduled aircraft, accompanied by a member of Rega’s medical staff. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic brought international travel to a virtual standstill. As a result, Rega repatriated significantly fewer patients from abroad than in 2019: of the 758 patients (-43.6 %), 647 were transported using a Rega ambulance jet (-33.4 %) and 111 on board a scheduled aircraft (-70.2 %). Although the three Rega jets flew fewer missions, overall they spent longer in the air than in the previous year. The reason for this higher amount of flight hours (4,589, +3.2 %) was because the missions took them to more distant countries.
73,000 new Rega patrons
It is only thanks to the solidarity contributions by its patrons that Rega is able to provide medical assistance by air for the Swiss people. Rega was delighted to welcome more than 73,000 new patrons as per the end of 2020, which is equivalent to a net increase of 2.0 percent or more than the population of Lugano. As a result, a total of 3,625,000 patrons are currently keeping Rega in the air.
Transport of 456 Covid-19 patients and assistance for the authorities
Thanks to the support of its patrons, during the coronavirus pandemic, too, Rega continues to perform around-the-clock air rescue services in Switzerland and repatriations from abroad on behalf of the Swiss population. On 11 March 2020, a confirmed Covid-19 patient was transported by Rega helicopter for the first time in Ticino. By the end of 2020, Rega had transported a total of 456 patients infected with Covid-19 on board its aircraft, 316 of them in a rescue helicopter and 140 using an ambulance jet. In addition, Rega is performing additional tasks during the pandemic: for example, with its expertise and infrastructure, it is assisting the Swiss government, cantonal authorities and Swiss population in a variety of ways in dealing with the pandemic. Among other things, at the request of the government, Rega’s Operations Centre is acting as a national coordination centre and organising the distribution of patients to the intensive care units, and in this way supporting the Swiss hospitals.