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Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue
Rettungshelikopter AgustaWestland Da Vinci bei Einsatz mit der Rettungswinde

This is how we help you

Rega is on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ready to respond to emergency calls – both in Switzerland and abroad. Are you seriously injured or ill? With Rega you can count on swift, uncomplicated emergency assistance by air.

Rega at your service

With its three ambulance jets and its twelve helicopter bases distributed all over the country, Rega is an integral part of primary medical care in Switzerland. Last year, Rega came to the aid of more than 11,100 patients and organised over 16,800 missions. 

1

Operations Centre

3

ambulance jets

12

helicopter bases

18

rescue helicopters

16782

missions in 2019

This is how we help in Switzerland

With its rescue helicopters, Rega transports professional help and state-of-the-art medical care by air directly to the casualty. Thanks to our 12 helicopter bases located throughout Switzerland and one partner base, we are able to reach even remote areas in just a few minutes. Our rescue helicopters are most frequently called out as a result of illness or to deal with winter sports, road, occupational and alpine accidents. Transfer flights from one hospital to another are also an integral part of our services. Almost one quarter of all Rega helicopter missions take place at night – a challenging task for our crews.

A helicopter crew always comprises:

Pilot (m/f)

The pilot is responsible for the aircraft and ensures that, from an aeronautical point of view, the mission is carried out precisely, swiftly and safely. At the accident site, if necessary he assists his two colleagues in taking care of the casualty and also communicates with the Operations Centre.

Paramedic (m/f)

In the air, the paramedic assists the pilot in the cockpit by operating the navigation devices and radio. On the ground, she helps the flight physician to administer first aid. If the helicopter is not able to land next to the casualty, the paramedic is in charge of operating the rescue hoist.

Flight physician (m/f)

The emergency flight physician bears the medical responsibility for the patient. He checks and stabilises their vital functions, decides whether they are fit for transport and determines the most suitable hospital. He is assisted by the paramedic. If necessary, he prepares the patient to be transported with the rescue hoist.

This is how we help you abroad

Rega is also there for you around the clock when you are travelling abroad. Depending on the severity of the medical emergency, our medical consultants will advise you over the phone or arrange for you to be flown back home. Our three ambulance jets are equipped as “flying intensive care units” and enable us to also transport patients who are in a critical condition. If the deployment of an ambulance jet is not necessary, patients fly back to Switzerland on board a scheduled airline – professionally accompanied by a member of Rega’s medical staff.

 

Our assistance in the event of emergencies abroad

Travellers suffering from serious illnesses or injuries can contact Rega’s medical consultants and flight coordinators by phone around the clock. They will give medical advice, provide addresses of local clinics and hospitals, or help to translate and explain medical diagnoses. However, Rega does not provide emergency assistance abroad. In the event of an accident or serious illness, you should first call out the local rescue services or contact the nearest doctor or hospital. Only then should you call the Rega Operations Centre – for example, to help arrange for you to be admitted to a local hospital or organise repatriation back home to Switzerland.

Seriously ill or injured patients are usually flown back home on one of Rega’s three ambulance jets – particularly if they require intensive medical care. The medical crew on board the Rega jet always comprise at least a flight physician and a flight nurse. As these flights can be planned in advance, two or more patients can also be taken on board (combined flights).

 

If the patient’s state of health allows, repatriation takes place on a scheduled flight – if necessary, accompanied and attended to by a Rega flight physician and/or flight nurse. 

This is how to call out Rega in Switzerland and worldwide

1414 in Switzerland

Always call out Rega if you require immediate assistance by a rescue helicopter. For example:

  •  in rough, inaccessible terrain

  •  if swift, gentle transport to a central hospital is necessary (e.g. in the case of suspected stroke, heart attack, back injury, severe burns, etc.) 

  • after an avalanche accident

Further information:

PDF: Calling out a rescue helicopter

PDF: Knowledge - raising the alarm

+41 333 333 333 from abroad

Contact us if you are abroad and require medical advice or medical treatment is inadequate or not available at all. In many cases, our medical consultants can help you over the phone. Or we will arrange for you to be flown home in a Rega ambulance jet or on a scheduled flight under the professional care of a Rega medical specialist.

Further information:

PDF: Medical emergencies abroad

Questions and answers on the subject of Alarm

Select the subject area for answers to frequently asked questions and further information.

Generally our flight coordinators want to speak to the person who is raising the alarm. However, in the case of people who are deaf or hearing impaired, we recommend the following:

Download the Rega app onto your iPhone or Android smartphone. You can find further information here.

In the Rega app, select «Profile», then in the field marked «Family name», enter your family name, as well as the words «deaf, via SMS» in brackets. Important: Only enter this information (deaf, via SMS) under «Family name»; this field is always transmitted to the Rega Operations Centre.

You should also ensure that your own mobile phone number is entered correctly in the field, «Phone number of this device».

In in the event of an emergency, you can alert Rega via the app. Thanks to the data transmitted, the Rega Operations Centre is informed that you are deaf or hearing impaired and will contact you by SMS and also request further information about the emergency by SMS.

In the event of a medical problem abroad, you can reach Rega’s Operations Centre around the clock via our international emergency number +41 333 333 333 or by e-mail at ops@­rega.ch.

If you suffer an accident or acute illness while you are abroad, you should first call out the local rescue services, or contact a local doctor or hospital; only then should you call the Rega Operations Centre. Rega can only repatriate patients once they have been hospitalised. After receiving an emergency call, our medical consultants contact the local doctor in attendance and then, based on medical, social and operational considerations, decide on the necessity, time and form of repatriation.

If the Rega medical consultant considers transportation to be indicated, the flight coordinator organises the repatriation – either by Rega ambulance-jet or on board a scheduled airline. Rega can waive its costs for any missions carried out on patrons’ behalf in the event that insurance companies or any other third party are not liable to pay and thus not required to reimburse the costs of the rescue operation, whether wholly or in part. However, this only applies to services provided or organised by Rega; we are not liable for any costs for other services provided abroad (for example, a medical consultation or a stay in hospital).

You can find out more here

Illustration: emergency abroad

Leaflet: Medical emergencies abroad

 

The following details about the location of the accident are of greatest use to Rega:

  • Name of the village or location
  • Name of meadow or local area
  • If possible, the Swiss coordinates (XXX XXX / YYY YYY)
  • Altitude in metres above sea level
  • Weather (visibility, wind)
  • For the helicopter rescue: obstacles in the area (cables, power lines)?
  • Can the helicopter land or is a rescue winch required?
  • Additional information about the cause of the accident: What happened where and when?
  • No. of casualties and nature of injuries (age/ level of consciousness/breathing)

Leaflet: Calling out a rescue helicopter

Exact coordinates, whether taken from a GPS finder or from a map, are of great help to us. After the alarm has been raised, our Operations Centre passes on the coordinates to the helicopter crew, who, with the aid of a navigation device, are then able to fly to the precise site of the accident. As a result, complex and time-consuming search operations can be avoided. Therefore, in the event of an emergency, we are pleased if you can provide us with the exact GPS coordinates of the person in distress.

However, as is often the case, this is not quite as straightforward as it might sound: for example, after it is switched on, a GPS device usually takes a few minutes to display the exact position. You should also familiarise yourself beforehand with which buttons you need to push or which menu displays the relevant coordinates. Experience has shown that unfortunately many GPS users do not know exactly where they can find their coordinates in an emergency.

Moreover, in a stress situation - which is often the case when raising the alarm - it is only too easy to get a digit or the position of the comma wrong when giving the GPS coordinates. It is therefore extremely important to remain calm and to read off the exact coordinates, including the position of the comma and any spaces. It is best to set your GPS to the Swiss coordinate system, Swiss Grid, which delivers the information clearly and simply. We are also are able to take over this data direct without having to convert it.

One last tip: Never blindly rely on your GPS finder - at that all-important moment, the batteries might fail or it might break as a result of the accident. You should always also know and be able to describe your position without using your GPS, wherever possible giving the place names as shown on official Swiss maps. It is also recommended that you always take a detailed map with you when you go off on a hiking tour. And you should never be tempted to take greater risks - for example, in adverse weather - simply because you are carrying a GPS device.

Six tips on how to use your GPS device properly:

  • Does it have sufficient battery power for the planned tour?
  • Do I know how and where to find out the coordinates of my position at any given time?
  • Is it switched to Swiss Grid?
  • In stress situations, take care to read the data accurately!
  • Do not take greater risks simply because you are carrying a GPS device!
  • Even if you have a GPS device, always take a map with you (scale 1:50,000 or 1:25,000)



If you are in possession of a smartphone, it is worthwhile downloading Rega's free mobile application:
www.iphoneen.rega.ch
www.androiden.rega.ch

In the case of emergency, besides calling out a rescue helicopter, the emergency app also automatically transmits the coordinates of the caller and then sets up a telephone connection with Rega's Operation Centre. After speaking to the person who has raised the alarm, Rega initiates the rescue. In order for the Location Services function of the app to work, the GPS signal needs to be enabled on the phone settings. And particularly important: the smartphone requires an adequate mobile phone reception.

In addition, the app features a map function that displays the caller's current position, or calculates the coordinates of any location on the map, and shows this data in various formats.

If you have called an alarm centre - such as 1414 (Rega) or 144 (ambulance) - by mobile phone within the last two hours, these emergency services are able to determine with which mobile radio antenna or network cell you were last in contact. However, due to the broad coverage range provided by the mobile radio antennae, in the mountains this position-finding method is not very accurate; sometimes it can deviate by several dozen kilometres. Nevertheless, it is one more method of swiftly pinpointing a possible location. However, currently this procedure does not work with all mobile phones.

If you are in possession of a smartphone, it is worthwhile downloading Rega's free mobile application:
www.iphoneen.rega.ch
www.androiden.rega.ch
www.windows.rega.ch

In the case of emergency, besides calling out a rescue helicopter, the emergency app also automatically transmits the coordinates of the caller and then sets up a telephone connection with Rega's Operation Centre. After speaking to the person who has raised the alarm, Rega initiates the rescue. In order for the Location Services function of the app to work, the GPS signal needs to be enabled on the phone settings. And particularly important: the smartphone requires an adequate mobile phone reception.

In addition, the app features a map function that displays the caller's current position, or calculates the coordinates of any location on the map, and shows this data in various formats.

The Valais Cantonal Rescue Organisation (KWRO) is responsible for carrying our rescue operations in the canton of Valais (emergency tel. no. 144).

You can find further information about emergency radios here:

Emergency radio

If you want to use your emergency radio in the Haute-Savoie and/or Aosta Valley regions, it needs to be equipped with a tone squelch of 123 Hz. Without this, you will not have access to the alarm centre of the local rescue services, and you will only be able to be picked up by other hikers on an «open» line.

You can find further information about emergency radios here:

Emergency radio

The countrywide emergency radio channel (161.300 MHz) is at the disposal of the general public for calling out the emergency services if it is not possible to raise the alarm by telephone. Direct help can be requested via this frequency. The emergency channel is monitored by Rega's Operations Centre.

The emergency radio network uses the infrastructure of Rega's emergency radio system. Although this provides widespread coverage, there are some areas without radio contact. It is not possible to call out Rega via the E-channel from everywhere in Switzerland.

When you buy a new emergency radio, please ensure that it emits a 123.0 Hz tone squelch.

You can find further information about emergency radios here:

Emergency radio

If you initiate an emergency call via the SOS function of your satellite communication device, it will be transmitted to an international emergency call centre. This call centre then alerts the rescue services responsible for the region concerned, anywhere in the world. In the case of Switzerland, the emergency call is transmitted to the Zurich Cantonal Police. If necessary, the police will then call out Rega.

If you want to be able to alert Rega directly and without delay, we recommend that you store the e-mail address, alarm@­rega.ch, in your device and use it to contact our Operations Centre in an emergency. If you send a message to this address, your current location will also be transmitted and we can reply to you directly. Please note, however, that this option is only available within Switzerland and in areas close to the Swiss border. As soon as you are abroad, we advise you to amend the settings in your device and, if necessary, to raise the alarm via the SOS button.

Also: If you always have mobile phone reception and are in Switzerland, we recommend that you use our emergency number 1414 or the Rega app to call out Rega.

If your mobile phone is equipped with a SIM card from a Swiss network operator, you should dial 1414 without any area code or, if you are outside Switzerland, Rega's emergency number +41 333 333 333. If you are phoning with a SIM card from a non-Swiss provider, you should in all cases use the number +41 333 333 333.

If you have saved an ICE number on your mobile phone, in most cases this only comes into its own after Rega's work has been completed. Directly at the site of the accident, where Rega is usually involved, such a number is not (yet) of any significance, as at this point the prime objective is to get the patient to hospital as quickly as possible. Here personal details are not a priority; Rega primarily wants to know not what the patient is called, but rather what the patient needs. Unfortunately, at this stage there is usually no time to inform the next-of-kin.

It is not until the patient is admitted to hospital that the matter of informing the next-of-kin arises, and with it, the question as to whether the casualty's mobile phone might contain an ICE number. By then, however, Rega is usually no longer involved in the case.

We consider it useful to save a so-called ICE number on your mobile phone. However, whether it will really be of any use in the event of emergency we cannot say, as by this time we are no longer attending to the patient but are back at the helicopter base or already out on another mission.

We recommend that wherever possible emergency calls are made via Rega’s emergency app or by calling our emergency number 1414. If this fails, change your location or try calling the European emergency number 112. If there is no mobile phone network available at all, you also have the possibility of requesting assistance via the emergency radio channel. For this, however, you need a radio device.

You can find further information about emergency radios here:

Emergency Radio

If this message appears, it means that you have a telephone connection, but either you are not within the network reception area of your own telecom provider or your prepaid account is empty. As a result, you are not able to make normal telephone calls. Emergency calls, however, are still possible, but only via the European emergency number 112, which is otherwise hardly used in Switzerland.

If, however, you are entirely outside the range of the mobile telephone network, e.g. in very remote mountainous regions or at a high altitude, it is not possible to raise the
alarm by mobile telephone. Therefore, in such locations it is advisable to take with you an emergency radio device, which can be used to establish a link with Rega's radio network. You can find further information about emergency radios here:

Emergency Radio

Yes, in exceptional cases Rega can also be contacted on its emergency number 1414 by sending a SMS. However, this only makes sense when the reception is insufficient to establish a phone connection (a SMS does not need such a strong network connection as a telephone call) or the battery is so low that it is not possible to make a telephone call. Wherever possible, the alarm should always be raised by telephone, so that the operation coordinator on the other end of the line can ask questions about the situation at the accident site. Moreover, very occasionally, SMS messages fail to be delivered to the receiver, and are therefore not a very reliable method of raising the alarm. When calling out Rega by SMS, it is vital to provide precise details and/or the GPS coordinates of the site of the accident, and, if possible, a keyword or two indicating the nature of the accident and the injuries sustained.

Please note: If you have a mobile phone from a foreign provider or are located in a country bordering Switzerland, you should use the number +41 76 601 14 14 for raising the alarm via SMS.

The majority of European countries operate a general emergency telephone number, 112. In all emergency situations, this is the number to call. The alarm centre will pass on the information to the appropriate rescue services. We therefore recommend that in the event of an emergency – particularly if you are not sure whether or not you are on Swiss territory - you call the emergency number 112. If it is necessary for Rega to be called out, our Operations Centre will be informed immediately.

However, Rega attaches great importance to the fact that, where necessary, it can be contacted directly, including by members of the public. Basically speaking, this concerns cases where the casualty is difficult to reach, the approach route is too long for the rescue services on the ground to reach the patient quickly, or the person raising the alarm considers the use of a rescue helicopter to be necessary.

The Rega app

Rega’s emergency app has proved its worth in thousands of missions and enables us day after day to come to the aid of people in distress as swiftly as possible. Now we have further improved the Rega app for you and developed some new features in addition to the tried­-and-­tested alarm function – some of them for Rega patrons.

Our operation partners

Good collaboration with our operation partners is essential for the success of a mission. Depending on the type of mission, our helicopter crews also require the assistance of partners with specialised knowledge, expertise and equipment.

More about our operation partners

Swiss Air-Ambulance

Swiss Air-Ambulance can organise and execute medical evacuations and medically escorted repatriations from virtually any country in the world. Our three fully dedicated, long-range ambulance jets are used exclusively for ambulance flights and are fitted out as intensive-care units, guaranteeing top-quality medical assistance.

 

Find out more