Rega operates 12 helicopter bases throughout Switzerland and one partner base in Geneva and with its 19 rescue helicopters provides basic medical care for the Swiss population. In order to further optimise its air-rescue services in Switzerland, it continually reviews this operational structure. As from Christmas this year, Rega will station a rescue helicopter in Sion in a step to strengthen the deployment of its resources in Canton Vaud and the western part of the Bernese Oberland, as well as to further improve its air-rescue services in these areas. On doing so, Rega will have 14 bases at its disposal, thus increasing the availability of its rescue helicopters, which in turn benefits its patients.
The stationing of an AgustaWestland Da Vinci helicopter in Sion is being carried out in collaboration with the local helicopter firm, Héli-Alpes SA, in whose hangar the Rega helicopter will be based. The Rega crew is on standby around the clock and can thus take off within just a few minutes, including at night, in order to bring medical assistance wherever it is needed. Similarly to all Rega’s helicopters, the rescue helicopter in Sion is equipped with a rescue hoist and can be deployed for Rega’s entire scope of operations – including transporting intensive-care patients and new-born or premature babies.
As with all of Rega helicopters, the rescue helicopter stationed in Sion will also be called out and dispatched on rescue missions by Rega’s countrywide Operations Centre. As – unlike ground-based rescue services – air rescue is not governed by cantonal borders, the centralised coordination of the rescue helicopters is vital, especially if many are being deployed at the same time. Rega is called on for assistance directly via its own emergency number 1414 in approximately 65% of cases, while in the remaining 35% of cases, it is contacted by a cantonal ambulance call centre.
Rega missions in Canton Valais
The Ambulance Call Centre 144 Valais already calls out Rega’s rescue helicopters to perform missions on its cantonal territory. Currently, Rega helicopters fly around three missions a week in Canton Valais – mostly special intensive-care transports, for example for premature babies, which cannot be carried out by Air Zermatt or Air-Glaciers. The stationing of the Rega helicopter in Sion will not affect the manner in which Rega is deployed in Canton Valais; as before, the Ambulance Call Centre 144 Valais can request assistance from any of Rega’s helicopters through Rega’s nationwide Operations Centre.
In due course, Rega will participate in the prospective tender procedure relating to air rescue in Canton Valais with an as yet undefined scope of services. The population of the canton of Valais is very close to Rega’s heart, not least because over 50,000 patrons in Valais support it with their annual contributions – something for which we would like to express our heartfelt thanks.