The first patient with COVID-19 was transported on board a Rega helicopter on 11 March in Ticino. Since then, the Rega crews have carried out flights for more than 100 infected patients in Switzerland and abroad. Infected patients continue to be transported on board both the rescue helicopters and ambulance jets. Although the transport of highly contagious patients belongs to Rega’s normal scope of operations, already in February the crews attended refresher courses to specifically prepare them for an increase in missions with Coronavirus patients.
Helicopter crews transported 88 COVID-19 patients
Since 11 March, Rega crews have transported a total of 88 COVID-19 patients. The majority of these flights were special intensive care transports, where patients need to be artificially ventilated. Provided that sufficient capacity is available, Rega also helped out in neighbouring countries. After the Federal Council introduced more stringent measures to protect the public against coronavirus in the middle of March, the restrictions and change in leisure activities resulted in a drop in Rega’s primary missions in response to accidents compared to the same period in 2019. Despite this, Rega has still been in great demand: during the last four weeks, the crews have performed on average around 20 missions per day.
More than 20 Coronavirus patients repatriated on board a Rega jet
Between 11 March and now, Rega’s ambulance jets recorded a slight increase in flying hours in comparison with the same period the previous year. This is partly attributable to the fact that during this period, Rega flew to more distant destinations and generally fewer repatriations could be organised on board scheduled aircraft. Over the last few weeks, Rega has flown home more than 20 patients infected with COVID-19. Besides the implementation, particularly the organisation of such repatriations is currently more complex and time-consuming, because more clarifications need to be made in advance and the situation is constantly changing.