Competence centre for the search for missing persons
Rega’s Search and Rescue team is stationed at the helicopter base in Wilderswil. Here the search specialists determine the optimal means of performing a particular search mission. All search missions for missing persons are carried out on behalf of the local authorities. The search specialist narrows down the search area based on the initial information from the Operations Centre and discusses the mission with the helicopter crew. Depending on the situation, the competence centre for the search for missing persons decides on a visual search flight with a rescue helicopter or the deployment of the search helicopter. If poor visibility prevents a helicopter from being used, the drone is put into operation.
The search specialists are trained for the deployment of both the search helicopter and the drone. This training includes, among other things, operating the thermal imaging camera, evaluating the data delivered, learning about mobile radio technology and working with search dogs. As the interface between the various organisations, the search specialist needs to be a good communicator, who collects and evaluates all the available information in order to gain an overall picture of the mission and to narrow down the search area.
The Rega crews at the 14 helicopter bases throughout Switzerland are on standby around the clock. Thanks to this dense network, a rescue helicopter can reach any location in Switzerland within 15 minutes. If the search area is limited – for example, if the planned route of a missing hiker is known – a search flight along the hiking path by the nearest Rega helicopter with a crew on board who are familiar with the area is a sensible initial measure. After darkness has fallen, the Rega crews can also use night vision goggles and the searchlight.
Rega’s search helicopter is on standby around the clock at the base in Wilderswil. The AgustaWestland Da Vinci helicopter is equipped with a high-tech search system featuring a thermal imaging camera and numerous sensors. This enables Rega crews to search large areas from the air both during the day and at night.
The Rega drone can autonomously scan large search areas and is equipped with various sensors. It is deployed on missions to search for missing, injured or ill persons to supplement the conventional resources – for example, if the helicopter has to remain on the ground due to poor visibility. Thus Rega has at its disposal an additional device to help search for people in distress.
Assistance by mountain rescuers from the Swiss Alpine Club SAC
The mountain rescuers from the Swiss Alpine Club SAC are called out if the Rega crews require help in rough terrain or specialised knowledge in mountainous areas, or if poor visibility renders rescue by air impossible. These rescue specialists also include teams with terrain search dogs, which can be deployed as efficient search aids.