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In operation at the Ski World Championships 2017 in St. Moritz

Rega news dated 28.02.2017

In operation at the Ski World Championships 2017 in St. Moritz
In operation at the Ski World Championships 2017 in St. Moritz

The picture went around the world: Swiss medal hopeful, Lara Gut, is lifted into the Rega helicopter after falling while practising for a slalom run in the combined event. This was just one of five Rega missions carried out for injured competitors at the Ski World Championships 2017 in St Moritz. But what preparations needed to be made behind the scenes to ensure that rescues could be performed quickly and safely in an emergency?

A team of specialists under the leadership of Andi Grünenfelder, Senior Consultant Anaesthetics at the Klinik Gut in St. Moritz, were responsible for providing medical care to the ski athletes and fans at the Ski World Championships. In close collaboration with Rega medics and the Corviglia SOS piste rescue service, a new rescue concept was specially drawn up for this major event. The concept specified that during the races several teams of rescuers and doctors should be stationed along the course, together with the necessary equipment for transporting casualties by rescue helicopter, such as vacuum mattresses.

When an athlete fell, the nearest team promptly skied to the injured person and immediately started administering first aid. The Rega helicopter stationed in the finish area was only summoned when the casualty was ready to be transported. The patient could then be flown out suspended from the rescue hoist – directly to the nearby Klinik Gut in St. Moritz, to Samedan Regional Hospital, or to a temporary landing site where they were loaded into the helicopter.

When every minute counts

In retrospect, the new rescue concept proved its worth: “In an emergency, we were thus able to save valuable minutes and further shorten the length of time between the person falling and receiving medical attention,” explains Roland Albrecht, Medical Director at Rega. Previously, after a fall, the helicopter first had to be called out over the radio, take off and fly to the accident site, where it set down the emergency flight physician and the necessary equipment. Only then could the casualty be attended to and subsequently flown to hospital. According to Albrecht, it was only thanks to the close collaboration between the Klinik Gut, Rega and the Corviglia SOS piste rescue service that the implementation of this concept went so smoothly. Leading up to the event, the various procedures were repeatedly practised and improved.

Team of specialists
Picture: Specialists from the Klinik Gut, the Corviglia SOS piste rescue service and Rega worked hand-in-hand to provide the necessary medical care.

Rega’s involvement in the Ski World Championships had no adverse impact on the provision of emergency medical care to other winter sports enthusiasts: the “St. Moritz” helicopter was an additional machine deployed by Rega. The crew from Rega 9, the helicopter stationed at the Rega base in Samedan, continued to operate as normal.


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