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Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue, to home page

Missions in 2021: record year – Rega in greater demand than ever before

In 2021, Swiss Air-Rescue Rega came to the assistance of more than 12,000 people for the first time. The Rega helicopters were in the air particularly frequently, but the three ambulance jets also recorded more missions than in the previous year. Besides its regular operational activities, Rega continued to assist the Swiss authorities in handling the coronavirus pandemic. Rega is particularly pleased at the trust shown by the Swiss population; at the end of 2021, it could count on the support of 3,678,000 patrons – a net increase of 53,000 persons compared to the year before.

Rega can look back at the busiest year in its history: the Rega Operations Centre organised a total of 18,017 missions, which is on average 50 missions per 24-hour period and 10.7 percent more than the previous year. The Rega crews transported approximately 34 patients per day (12,284, +10.3 %). The number of patients and missions do not concur because on Rega missions, several patients may be transported at the same time, for example, or search flights are performed without any patients at all. Furthermore, 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.

More helicopter missions than ever before

Particularly in demand were the helicopter crews stationed at the 13 countrywide Rega bases and one partner base, who provide medical assistance by air to the Swiss population. Rega’s national Operations Centre organised 14,330 missions, which meant that the rescue helicopters were in the air 8.1 percent more often than the year before. Also registering an increase were both the rescue missions at the incident site (8,444, +8.6 %) and the number of transfer flights from one hospital to another (2,854, +9.2 %). Generally speaking, the missions performed by the Rega helicopters are subject to natural fluctuations. The figures for 2021 reflect, among other things, the good weather in the autumn, as well as the leisure activities of the Swiss population.

Increase in repatriations

Rega comes to the aid of people in distress not only in Switzerland, but also all over the world. It arranges for patients who have become seriously ill or injured abroad to be 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 2021, the Rega crews repatriated 970 patients; 858 by ambulance jet (+32.6 %) and 112 on board a scheduled aircraft (+0.9 %). This growth in the number of repatriations is attributable to increased travel activity on the part the Swiss people compared to the first year of the pandemic, when international travel dropped significantly.

53,000 new Rega patrons

Professional rescue by air around the clock, 365 days a year, with highly qualified staff, state-of-the-art rescue equipment and a dense network of helicopter bases – it would be impossible to provide all of this in a cost-effective manner. It is the more than 3.6 million patrons that keep Rega in the air with their financial contributions. At around 60 percent, these patronage contributions, together with donations, cover over half of Rega’s overall budget. Rega was delighted to welcome more than 53,000 new patrons as at the end of 2021, which is equivalent to a net increase of 1.4 percent or approximately the population of the city of Biel.

Transport of 702 Covid-19 patients and assistance for the authorities

In 2021, Rega transported a total of 702 (+53.9 %) patients infected with Covid-19 on board its aircraft – 471 (+49.1 %) of them by rescue helicopter and 231 (+65.0 %) on board an ambulance jet. In addition, as in the previous year, Rega assisted the authorities in their efforts to deal with the pandemic, and also performed various new tasks. Among other things, at the request of the government, Rega’s Operations Centre continued to support the Swiss hospitals as a national coordination centre by organising the distribution of patients among the intensive care units. Moreover, in autumn 2021, Rega assumed the role of coordination centre for repatriations and was tasked with coordinating the transfer requests by assistance companies for intensive care patients living in Switzerland.

Rega in brief

Swiss Air-Rescue Rega was founded in 1952 for the purpose of providing professional medical assistance by air. It is an autonomous, privately run, non-profit foundation and currently employs around 400 members of staff. Rega helps people in distress, in accordance with the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross. It provides its services without discrimination as to person, financial circumstances, social status, nationality, race, religious beliefs or political opinions. Rega is at the disposal of the Swiss people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and operates 13 helicopter bases distributed throughout the country, as well as three ambulance jets. Rega’s Operations Centre can be contacted around the clock – in Switzerland via emergency number 1414 and from abroad by calling +41 333 333 333. Rega is funded by its over 3.6 million patrons. This unique patronage system allows Rega to fulfil its core tasks and to fully focus on the welfare of its patients.

Additional information

Rega Media Service:

Please note that the following contact details are for journalists only.

Rega Center
PO Box 1414
8058 Zurich Airport

T: +41 (0)44 654 37 37 (24/7)
mediendienst@rega.ch (office hours)