Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue

Questions and answers

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

I have a question about the Rega app that isn't answered in the «Frequently Asked Questions». How should I proceed?

The best way is to contact us via our contact form. We would then be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Why can’t I store an emergency contact with a foreign mobile phone number?

Only Swiss and Liechtenstein mobile phone numbers can be stored as emergency contacts in the Rega app. In order for the «Monitor activity» and «Acknowledgement» features to be used successfully, the emergency contacts provided must be able to receive an SMS and the automatic check call. Only thus can they respond swiftly and find out if the app user is OK. We cannot guarantee that this process will function smoothly using international mobile phone numbers.

I can't update my old smartphone any more, but it still has an old version of the Rega app installed on it. Does the alarm feature still work?

Yes, you can continue to use the alarm feature as before.

I enjoy hiking in the mountains and am often in Alpine areas close to the Swiss border. How should I proceed in an emergency? Can I also call out Rega from areas bordering on Switzerland? And is this possible using the «I need help from abroad» feature on the Rega app?

Basically speaking, Rega does not fly emergency medical assistance directly to accident sites outside Switzerland. This is the responsibility of the appropriate rescue organisations in the country concerned. There are certain cases where Rega responds to emergencies in areas close to the Swiss border; however, it is then explicitly called out by the local rescue services responsible.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation and are not sure on which side of the Swiss border you are, we recommend that you first contact Rega, either by calling the emergency number 1414 or by using the «I need help in Switzerland» feature on your Rega app. This is particularly advisable if your location is difficult to reach due to rough terrain, if the approach route is too long for emergency services on the ground to get to you quickly, or if you think that the severity of the injury or illness requires a rescue helicopter to be called out.

If, on the other hand, you are sure that you are outside Swiss territory, we recommend that you call the European emergency number 112 or the number 911. Alternatively, you can find out in advance the relevant emergency number for the country in question (for example, by consulting a travel guide) and then call that number. Experience has shown that this is the quickest way to deal with emergencies beyond the Swiss border, particularly if the appropriate regional rescue services need to ask you for detailed information about the accident site and the local weather conditions. In the event that Rega does need to be called out, the regional alarm centre will pass on the case to us.

Fundamentally, the Rega app feature, «I need help from abroad», is not intended for raising the alarm in the event of an acute emergency abroad. It much rather comes into its own when Rega is asked to repatriate severely ill or injured patients from another country back to Switzerland. In such cases, the patient has generally already been hospitalised. With the aid of the data provided by the Rega app, our medical consultants can discuss the case with the doctors on location and make the appropriate arrangements for the patient to be flown back to Switzerland.

I'm deaf and therefore cannot make voice calls over telephone. How can I contact Rega in the event of an emergency?

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.

Does the Rega app also work when I only have very poor reception or even none at all?

In order for an alarm call to be initiated, at least a minimal connection with a mobile phone network is necessary. In the complete absence of any network coverage, it is not possible to raise the alarm and thus it is also not possible to contact the Operations Centre by telephone.

If reception is poor and no data network is available, the Rega app transmits the coordinates by SMS. However, in this case, too, a rescue will only be organised after the Operations Centre has been contacted.

If due to a lack of adequate network coverage, you are not able to acknowledge the confirmation request by the «Monitor activity» feature via the app, the procedure with the check call followed by the automated voice message to your contacts will be initiated. If you are subsequently able to receive and respond to the check call, the voice message to the emergency contacts will not be sent.

What happens when I initiate the test alarm?

The test alarm is a one-way connection check; consequently, it does not initiate an emergency call at our Operations Centre. As soon as the test alarm has been successfully transmitted, you will receive an automatic voice message. We will also send you a confirmation by SMS.

What happens if none of my designated emergency contacts reacts to the voice message?

If none of the designated emergency contacts reacts to the message, the Rega Operations Centre will automatically be informed.

What should my emergency contacts do when they receive the voice message?

Provided that a Rega patron has entered one or more emergency contacts in the Rega app, these individuals will be automatically notified of this by SMS. If they are contacted by Rega, the emergency contact will receive a phone call with an automated message requesting them to investigate the well-being of the app user. If they do not succeed in doing so, and there is good reason to suspect an emergency situation, they can then alert Rega by calling the emergency number 1414.

What happens if I am not able to acknowledge the regular monitoring of my activity («Acknowledgement» feature) in time due to poor network coverage?

If you are not able to acknowledge the confirmation request via the app due to poor or no network coverage, the procedure with the check call followed by the automated voice message to your contacts will be initiated. If you are subsequently able to receive and respond to the check call, the voice message to the emergency contacts will not be sent.

What happens if I forget to disable the «Monitor activity» feature and my mobile phone is left lying in the same place for 10 minutes?

If the «Monitor activity» feature is not disabled after ending a tour or other outdoor activity, first of all an automatic check call is sent to your smartphone. If you fail to respond, the specified emergency contacts will be notified in the order in which they are listed.

How long does my position data remain visible after I have disabled the feature, «Share position with contacts»?

The position data is immediately deleted when the «Share position with contacts» is disabled.

Who can see and track my position when I share it via the Rega app?

The only people who can follow your movements are those who have received the corresponding link from the Rega app.

How long is my position data stored for?

Rega basically stores your data for a maximum of 60 days. If a rescue mission is necessary, the relevant data is retained together with the mission data. The provisions laid down in Rega's General data protection statement of Rega apply.

With the «Share position with Rega» feature, at what time intervals is my current location transmitted to Rega?

An algorithm defines the intervals between the transfer of data, depending on such factors as the distance covered and the time taken to do so.

What is the difference between «Share position with Rega» and «Share position with contacts»?

The feature, «Share position with Rega», periodically transmits your current position to Rega’s Operations Centre. This position data can only be seen by Rega in the event of an emergency. The feature can be permanently activated. Rega recommends that you always enable this feature when pursuing an activity outside in rough terrain.

The feature, «Share position with contacts», allows selected contact persons to track your movements in the web browser. The feature is only active for a certain amount of time or can be manually disabled by the app user.

Why are some of the new features reserved exclusively for patrons?

Rega is a non-profit foundation that receives over 60 percent of its funding from voluntary financial contributions by its patrons. With the additional features such as «Share position with contacts» and «Monitor activity», Rega would like to thank its patrons for their invaluable support.

The basic features of the app – in other words, raising the alarm, testing the alarm, and the new feature, «Share position with Rega» – are available to all app users.

I'm a Rega patron. How do I enable the additional features?

1. Download the Rega app for iPhone or Android or update your Rega app to the new version 2.0.

2. Open the Rega app on your smartphone.

3. Click on «Configure now» and follow the instructions.

4. Activate the additional features for patrons: in the app, select the menu option, «Patron», at the bottom of the screen.

5. Select «Patron login» and enter your personal patronage number (7- or 8- digit number) and the area code of your home address.

What do I need to watch out for with smartphones with a dual SIM function?

The Rega app cannot support the various dual SIM functions for technical reasons. Whenever you use the Rega app, please ensure that your SIM card is inserted in slot 1.

Why does the Rega app not work on older operating systems?

The app is largely based on new technologies which are no longer supported by older operating systems. Whether older devices support it or not is determined by the manufacturer. To install our app on Android you currently need Android 6.0 or higher. The functionality with Apple devices depends on the model (all compatible Apple devices can be found under this link) and the operating system - at least iOS 10.3.

I would like to use the Rega app in another language. How do I do this?

The language in which the Rega app is displayed depends on the language setting on your device. We support the languages German, French, Italian and English. If your smartphone is set to a language other than these, the Rega app will automatically default to English.

Therefore, you can use the German, French, Italian or English version of the Rega app simply by enabling the appropriate language setting on your device.

You can change the language on your smartphone under “Settings”.

Why am I not able to use all the Rega app functions on my tablet?

When the alarm is raised using the Rega app, a telephone connection is set up with Rega’s Operations Centre. This takes place via the mobile phone network. However, most tablets do not allow calls over the mobile network; consequently, the alarm function does not work on these devices.

Do I have to enter all my personal data under «Profile» in order for the Rega app to work?

The data that you enter is very helpful for our Operations Centre – but it is not essential to be able to use the alarm feature. However, we recommend that you at least enter your mobile phone number.

The additional features, «Share position with contacts» and «Monitor activity», are reserved exclusively for Rega patrons. In order to use them, you need to click in the app on «Patrons», enter your patronage number and area code, and verify your mobile phone number.

I can't find the Rega app in my app store under the keyword, «Rega». Why is that?

Perhaps your mobile phone is linked with a store abroad – for example, if you gave a foreign address when you registered in the store. The Rega app is not available in foreign stores because it was developed and tested for use with the Swiss mobile phone network and is not able to cover all the roaming possibilities.

In order to be able to nevertheless download the app for your mobile phone, you need to open a separate account in the Swiss app store. For this, you will require a Swiss address (the address of your hotel or holiday apartment will suffice) and a Swiss means of payment (Swiss credit card or a voucher card purchased in Switzerland).

However, you should be aware that Rega has not performed any tests with mobile phones operating over foreign providers, so you should be sure to test the app by using the test alarm feature.

Why do I need to verify my telephone number?

This enables us to check whether the number entered really is the correct one for the smartphone on which the various features have been enabled. In the event of an emergency, a correct phone number is vital for a rescue to be performed as efficiently as possible.

Why do I have to enable «Location Services» separately on my iPhone if I want to use the additional features?

The app requires special authorisation to access the «Location Services» function so that, even in the background, the additional features such as «Share position» can transfer data to the Operations Centre.

For which operating systems is the Rega app available?

The Rega app is available for iOS and Android and can be downloaded free of charge from the corresponding app store. In order to ensure that the app works perfectly at all times and can fulfil its purpose, we are forced for technical reasons to adapt it to the current devices and operating systems. This means that some older operating systems and devices are no longer supported. To install our app on Android you currently need Android 6.0 or higher. The functionality with Apple devices depends on the model (all compatible Apple devices can be found under this link) and the operating system - at least iOS 10.3.

However, if no Rega app is available for your mobile phone, the Rega Operations Centre has another way of locating you when you raise the alarm. In order to pinpoint the precise position of a smartphone owner, they are sent an SMS containing a link. By opening this link, the recipient can then transmit their coordinates to the Operations Centre via a mobile website.

The prerequisites for this procedure are a data-capable smartphone with GPS receiver and sufficient network coverage. In addition, “Location Services” needs to be enabled both in the phone settings and in Internet Explorer. In the case of smartphones with a foreign SIM card, data roaming also needs to be activated.

In what way is the Rega app different to standard GPS devices?

When the alarm is raised using the Rega app, the coordinates of the caller’s current position are transmitted directly to Rega’s Operations Centre. The flight coordinator sees this position directly on the map on their screen, and can thus mobilise the necessary rescue services more quickly. The automatic transfer of data also prevents errors from occurring, which might otherwise arise when giving coordinates verbally in a stress situation.

In addition, the Rega app indicates the battery level of the mobile phone. In certain circumstances, this can be important for determining the way in which the Operations Centre and the person raising the alarm subsequently communicate with each other. Personal details about the caller – such as language spoken, name and age – are also transmitted to the Operations Centre when the alarm is initiated, provided that these are already stored in the app.

Does using the Rega app incur additional costs?

Like many other apps, the Rega app uses a mobile data connection to perform certain functions (e.g. displaying the map, downloading more detailed information or raising the alarm). Depending on your contract with your mobile phone provider, this may result in certain charges being payable.

When you initiate a test alarm, a telephone connection is set up with a Swiss landline number and you will hear an automated voice message confirming that the test has been successful. This call lasts approximately 10–12 seconds. Whether and how much you are charged for this depends on your mobile phone contract and whether you are in Switzerland or abroad.

What basic features does the Rega app offer?
  • Alerts Rega in an emergency by automatically transmitting your position coordinates to the Rega Operations Centre – from within Switzerland or from abroad.
  • Test alarm to check that the alarm feature is functioning properly and to practise what to do in an emergency.
  • Detailed map information from Swisstopo, displaying your current position in all standard coordinate systems.
  • Useful information about raising the alarm, first aid, and air transports on behalf of mountain farmers.
What additional features does the Rega app offer (from January 2019)?
  • Installation: After downloading, when opening the Rega app for the first time, the app user is instructed in a few simple steps to enter their personal data and to configure the app so that it functions properly in the event of an emergency. It is still possible to raise the alarm using the app even if it has not been configured.
  • Share position with Rega: Provided that it has been enabled by the app user, this feature shares the position coordinates of the smartphone to the Rega Operations Centre at regular intervals so that in an emergency a rescue can be carried out as efficiently as possible. If a search operation is necessary, Rega’s mission coordinators can access the database and ascertain the last known position of the smartphone. The position data is used solely in connection with a search operation.
  • Share position with contacts: With this feature, app users can share their position coordinates – for example, when they are out on a hike – with friends and family. The selected persons are sent a link enabling them to access a map displaying the smartphone’s current position. As soon as the app user disables the feature, the data is automatically deleted. This additional feature is available exclusively to Rega patrons.
  • Monitor activity: The Rega app can also monitor the user’s activity – such as when they are out and about on their own. Users can specify up to three emergency contacts, who will be automatically notified by means of a voice message if the app user is unable to acknowledge an automatic confirmation request on their smartphone or does not move for a certain period of time. For this to be possible, the user needs to enable the «Monitor activity» feature. This additional feature is exclusively reserved for use by Rega patrons.
  • Additional map material from Swisstopo (summer, winter and 3D map), which helps you to plan a hike or tour.



Video explaining how the Rega app works

The Rega app's location feature doesn't work or is not very accurate. What could be the reason for this?

First, «Location Services» needs to be enabled in your phone settings. To ensure that this feature will work reliably in an emergency, it is advisable to use it regularly. If you are, for example, inside a building or a cave, the GPS signal of your mobile phone cannot be received. If possible, you should change your location and initiate the alarm outside in the open air.

Is the Rega app suitable for safeguarding employees working alone?

No, the Rega app was not developed in accordance with the legal provisions governing emergency call systems for people working alone. There are specially designed solutions on the market, such as safety apps or hardware-based devices, which should meet the statutory requirements relating to lone worker safety laid down by FCOS (Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety) or Suva (Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund).

I would like to do some practical vocational training at Rega. Is this possible?

Despite great demand, unfortunately Rega is not able to offer practical vocational training, including unpaid work or work on a voluntary basis. There are a number of reasons for this, including the increased risk involved and the disproportionally high amount of instruction required when working in the field of aviation, as well as the limited space available in the aircraft.

How can I become a Rega paramedic?

Rega does not train paramedics itself. Further information, including the job requirement profiles, can be found here.

What requirements do I need to fulfil to be able to work for Rega?

You can find further information about the various job requirement profiles, as well as current vacancies, here.

How can I become a Rega helicopter pilot?

Rega does not train helicopter pilots itself. Further information, including the job specifications, can be found here.

When does an increased risk of travel-related thrombosis arise?

Sitting immobile for extended periods of time, with a lack of leg room, hinders the blood from flowing from the legs back towards the heart. While this problem is often associated with air travel, it can also occur on coach or train journeys and even on motorcycle trips. The reduced flow of blood favours the formation of blood clots (thrombus). In the worst case, parts of the blood clot can break off and become lodged in a blood vessel, blocking the blood supply to the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. In particular on long-haul flights, the lack of fluid intake also further aggravates the situation.

Overall, travel-related thrombosis is rare. There are three different risk groups:

1. Low risk:
All travellers who undertake a journey lasting several hours (over 5 hours) in a sitting position and do not have any other risk factors for deep vein thrombosis.

2. Medium risk:
Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth (within the last four weeks), as well as people with at least two of the following risk factors:

  • aged over 60
  • severe varicose veins
  • existing cardiac problems
  • family history of deep vein thrombosis or blood clotting disorders
  • contraceptive pill or hormone replacements
  • obesity (BMI of over 30)
  • dehydration



3. High risk:

  • Aged over 70
  • Personal history of thrombosis or embolism
  • Active cancer or cancer treatment
  • Chronic or acute illness
  • Immobilised leg (due to plaster cast, splint, paralysis, lameness)
  • Recent surgery



Tips (for everyone):

  • Move enough (stand up, walk around, exercise your calf muscles by rotating your ankles)
  • Drink enough (avoid alcohol and coffee)
  • Avoid taking sedatives or sleeping pills



For medium-risk travellers, also:

  • Wear compression stockings class I-II, possibly higher
  • In certain cases, have a blood-thinning injection (in consultation with your GP)



For high-risk travellers, also:

  • Blood-thinning injection (in consultation with your GP)
How can I protect my skin from the sun?

Whether in summer in Switzerland or in winter under the tropical sun, we should always protect our skin from too much solar radiation. Sunburn is far from harmless, for your skin never forgets!

Sunlight comprises in part ultraviolet (UV) rays, which stimulate the skin to produce melanin, or skin pigment, and cause the skin to tan. Unfortunately, UV rays also have a harmful effect on the skin, which can result in skin cancer. A melanoma - or black tumour - is particularly dangerous, for it spreads quickly throughout the body and frequently leads to death.

Sunburn is an indication that the skin is severely inflamed as a result of exposure to UV rays. As soon as the skin becomes red, the maximum UV dose that can be absorbed by the body has already been exceeded and individual skin cells have been damaged. The more frequently a person suffers from sunburn, the greater the risk that he or she will contract skin cancer. It is therefore best to avoid getting sunburnt in the first place!

People with fair skin are generally at greater risk of getting sunburnt. This also applies to children, as their skin is not yet able to produce sufficient pigment to provide natural UV protection. Consequently, children must always be particularly well protected from the sun's harmful rays.

The best form of protection is shade. You should avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight particularly between the hours of 11.00 am and 3.00 pm, when radiation is at its strongest. People who cannot or do not want to stay indoors at midday should remain in the shade of the trees or under sunshades. Clothes, too, offer effective protection and should cover as much skin as possible. The head, face and neck are best covered by a sun hat. Fabrics that that have been treated with a UV filter are also recommended. Good sun protection includes sunglasses with a UV filter, as bright sunlight and UV radiation can also damage the eyes.

Exposed skin is best protected with a good-quality sunscreen. This should be generously applied before you expose your skin to the sun. When buying sunscreen, check out the sun protection factor (SPF); recommended are products with at least a medium (SPF 15-25) or - better - high sun protection factor (SPF 30 or more). People going on a beach holiday should choose water-resistant products and always reapply sunscreen after coming out of the water. Hikers, skiers and tropical tourists need to apply sunscreen at least to the face and neck, and if necessary to the arms and legs. It goes without saying that good quality sunscreen always belongs in your baggage when travelling to a hot country, particularly as in tropical lands good products are not always available. Products whose use-by date has expired (for example, the previous summer) should be discarded as full protection is no longer guaranteed.

What should I particularly watch out for when consuming water and food in far-off countries?

In many regions of the world, clean drinking water is not something that can be taken for granted – although the availability of clean, unpolluted water is one of the most important prerequisites for good health. Water can be contaminated by microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites), but also by chemicals such as heavy metals or insecticides. Germ contamination mostly stems from faecal waste. Approximately 80 per cent of all illnesses in tropical countries are caused by polluted water!

Here are some hygiene tips relating to drinking water and food:

  • The most important rule of thumb is: «Peel it, boil it, cook it, or forget it!»
  • Find out if the tap water is of drinking-water quality.
  • If the tap water is not suitable for drinking, or it is not possible to find out about the quality, it can be made potable by means of the following methods:
  • Boil the water for at least 5–10 minutes. Attention! At high altitudes (Andes, Himalayas), this method is not usually sufficient.
  • Purify the water with a filter system (e.g. Katadyn®); this method is, however, rather time-consuming.
  • Disinfect the water chemically by using iodine, silver or chlorine tablets (e.g. Micropur®, Aqua Clean®).
  • Consistently avoid drinking anything containing ice cubes; they are usually made with contaminated water.
  • Water from unopened original bottles can be drunk without hesitation.
  • Clean your teeth only with purified water. Even just a mouthful of contaminated water can cause diarrhoea. This also applies when taking tablets.
  • Do not bathe in tropical waters, such as rivers, lakes or ponds.
  • The consummation of freshly boiled, hot tea or coffee poses no problem.
How can I prevent getting malaria?

Malaria kills around one million people every year! This illness, which is transmitted by a specific species of mosquito, should be taken extremely seriously. The symptoms are often rather vague and non-characteristic. If malaria goes unrecognised, this could lead in the worst case to the brain being afflicted, resulting in death within a matter of just a few hours.

For this reason, rigorous prevention is extremely important. Malaria prophylaxis comprises three main pillars:

1.) Personal exposure prophylaxis - No mosquito bite, no malaria!
If you are travelling in a known malaria-endemic area, take steps to protect yourself
from being bitten by mosquitoes. They are active above all between dusk and dawn. Wear light-coloured clothing, including tops with long sleeves and long trousers. Use special mosquito repellent sprays and if possible always sleep under a mosquito net.

2.) Stand-by emergency treatment (antimalarial drugs for self-administration)
In certain cases, your doctor will prescribe you a so-called stand-by emergency treatment kit. This allows you to treat suspected malaria as soon as the symptoms become apparent, if you are not able to obtain professional medical care within reasonable amount of time (6-12 hours). Subsequently, you should consult a doctor as quickly as possible. The medication should be taken exactly as described and the treatment course must always be completed.

3.) Medicinal prophylaxis (prevention)
Here, anti-malarial drugs are regularly taken before, during and for a certain period after the trip to a malaria-endemic area. This drug regime is recommended in certain areas, for example Africa.

Make sure that you obtain your antimalarial medication in Switzerland and take it with you on your travels; you should avoid purchasing it on location, as unfortunately ineffective, counterfeit drugs are frequently sold in such countries.

You can find further information about the malaria risk in the various parts of the world at www.safetravel.ch.

A list of specialists in tropical and travel medicine can be found at www.doctor.ch.

The following medical centres, among others, also offer competent advice and vaccinations:

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel

Zentrum für Reisemedizin der Universität Zürich

Centre de Vaccination et Médecine des Voyages, Lausanne (CVMV)

I am planning a lengthy trip abroad. Do I need to be vaccinated against any diseases?

There are many travel destinations for which it is sensible to vaccinate yourself against specific diseases - in some countries it is even obligatory. Consult your GP, a tropical medicine specialist or the appropriate medical advisory centre. Vaccinations are one of the most important preventative measures that you can take before embarking on your journey. For this reason, all of Rega's flight crews are properly vaccinated!

It is a fact that in tropical and sub-tropical countries, even small injuries can quickly lead to major complications. One of the most feared is tetanus. By being vaccinated before you leave, you can prevent yourself from contracting this often fatal disease - and also avoid the difficulties involved in subsequently arranging for the appropriate protection while you are abroad.

Another disease that is particularly widespread in developing countries is Hepatitis A. This is transmitted by, among other things, unhygienically prepared food and drink. This disease, too, can be avoided by getting vaccinated before your journey.

A list of vaccinations recommended for travellers depending on their destination can be found, among others, at www.safetravel.ch.

A list of specialists in tropical and travel medicine can be found at www.doctor.ch.

The following medical centres, among others, also offer competent advice and vaccinations:

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel

Zentrum für Reisemedizin der Universität Zürich

Centre de Vaccination et Médecine des Voyages, Lausanne (CVMV)

Does Rega patronage replace travel insurance?

Insurances do not always cover all the transport or rescue costs that arise – for example, because the health insurance law does not provide for them, people are insufficiently insured, or the incident in question is not considered to be an accident. In such cases, the patient or their next-of-kin are liable for costs that can easily amount to several thousands – or in some cases even tens of thousands – of Swiss francs. This can be avoided by taking out a Rega patronage: if, as a patron, you ever require Rega’s assistance, in grateful acknowledgement of your support, 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.

For this reason, Rega recommends that you take out comprehensive travel insurance coupled with Rega patronage. Incidentally, even if all of the costs are settled by your insurance, you still have the satisfying feeling that it is thanks to contributions such as yours that Rega is able to organise and perform such repatriations in the first place. As Rega receives no subsidies from the State, the maxim applies: no patrons, no Rega.

What should I do in the case of an emergency abroad?

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

 

Which countries does Rega fly to?

Rega goes to the aid of people in distress all over the world and can fundamentally fly to any country with an airport. However, repatriation cannot be guaranteed – Rega can, for example, be prevented from carrying out a mission for operational, medical or meteorological reasons. In the case of politically instable countries, we continually assess whether it is safe to fly to the country or airport(s) in question.

What services does Rega provide abroad?

If travellers have a medical problem while they are abroad, Rega helps by providing medical advice over the phone or, if necessary, arranges their repatriation. It has three self-owned ambulance jets equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment on stand-by to transport intensive care patients. The patients are attended to by a Rega medical team. If the patient’s condition so allows, they can also be transported on board a scheduled aircraft. Rega’s Operation Centre can be contacted around the clock via its international emergency number, +41 333 333 333. As Rega is not permitted to provide medical assistance abroad, the local rescue services, doctor or hospital should be contacted in the event of an accident or acute illness.

You can find out more here:

Illustration: emergency abroad

Leaflet: Medical emergencies abroad

 

What does Rega particularly have to pay attention to when transporting newborn babies?

It often occurs that babies are born earlier than expected, sometimes several weeks too early. These premature babies are particularly vulnerable and sensitive, as not all of their bodily functions are fully developed. They particularly need a warm environment, because they are not yet able to regulate their body temperature in the same way as adults do.

To achieve this, they are placed into special incubators. If necessary, they can be artificially respirated and given infusions.

If premature babies need to be transported from one hospital to another, it is vital that they receive continuous treatment and medical care. As a result, special transport incubators have been designed to allow babies to be treated under constant conditions and without interruption.

This equipment also needs to comply with all the aeronautical requirements; for example, they must not interfere with the in-flight electronics of the helicopter or ambulance jet in any way.

Transports of this kind are generally accompanied by special teams comprising specialist physicians and intensive-care nurses from the neonatal units of major Swiss hospitals.

How can I become a disaster dog handler?

The training and deployment of disaster dog teams is the responsibility of the Swiss Disaster Dog Association (REDOG). Various requirements need to be fulfilled, such as age, suitability of both handler and dog, and current demand. For further information, please enquire at your nearest REDOG regional group or consult the REDOG website at www.redog.ch.

What activities does Rega carry out in the field of avalanche prevention?

Rega sees itself as primarily being confronted with the topic of avalanches within the scope of its actual rescue work rather than in the area of prevention.
Illustration: avalanches - race against time


On the other hand, the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos has compiled a very useful dossier on this subject.
SLF

The Beratungsstelle für Unfallverhütung bfu (Swiss Advisory Office for Accident Prevention) also examines this subject in some detail:
bfu

How can I become an avalanche dog handler?

The training and deployment of avalanche dog teams is the responsibility of Swiss Alpine Rescue (SAR). Various requirements need to be fulfilled, such as age, the skills and capabilities of both handler and dog, current demand and availability. For further information, please consult the SAR website.


Swiss Alpine Rescue

How is a person rescued from a glacier crevasse? What equipment is used?

If the accident victim is not or only slightly injured, and is not stuck in the crevasse, standard mountaineering equipment is used, for example, alpine rope, karabiners, ice picks and ice screws. The rescuer uses these tools to make an improvised pulley. The person attaches himself to the end of the rope and is then hauled out of the crevasse.

If the person is injured or even unconscious, a rescuer has to descend into the crevasse to administer first aid to him and attach him to the rescue rope. Sometimes, the casualty is stuck and keeps slipping further down into the very narrow crack, as his own body warmth slowly melts the ice around him. In such a case, the rescuers can only reach the patient by hacking a channel in the ice to widen the crevasse.

In order to carry out rescues of this kind, Rega and the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) need a special piece of equipment: a crevasse rescue kit. The most important objects stored in this container are the following:

1) A tripod with two hand-operated winches, which is placed directly over the crevasse. This enables the rescue team to pull up the patient on the end of the rope.

2) An electric or compressor-driven rock drill, which is used to hack an access shaft out of the ice.

Does Rega have specially trained glacier pilots and/or rescuers? What special training do they receive?

Rescue missions on glaciers are generally performed in a joint effort by Rega and the Swiss Alpine Club/Swiss Alpine Rescue. With missions in difficult terrain, the helicopter crews from Rega's mountain bases are accompanied by a helicopter rescue specialist from the SAC. They are familiar with the dangers posed by alpine regions, and know how to move around safely in this terrain. All Rega helicopter pilots are trained to cope with the challenging task of flying and landing in the mountains, and are required to undergo a check every year.

The SAC rescuers are trained how to use the crevasse rescue kit and to perform the improvised rescue technique. Every year, they attend rescue courses, in which they brush up and enhance their skills and knowledge. These courses are organised by the SAC rescue stations and regional associations belonging to Swiss Alpine Rescue (SAR).

Swiss Alpine Rescue

Swiss Alpine Club

Why does Rega often take a helicopter rescue specialist from the Swiss Alpine Club with it on missions? What is his task?

The SAC helicopter rescue specialist is specially trained to deal with missions in difficult terrain. He is responsible for the safety of the crew when facing the risks posed by Alpine regions. The Rega physician should be able to fully concentrate on the needs of the patient - it is the job of the helicopter rescue specialist to ensure that he is able to do so.

The SAC helicopter rescue specialists are organised into emergency response teams and are called out by the Rega Operations Centre to help with missions in inhospitable terrain. Usually they are picked up by the helicopter on the way to the accident site, such as from a location near to where they work.

Do Rega pilots also suffer from incidents of being blinded by laser pointers?

Helicopter pilots being blinded by lasers is indeed a major problem for Rega; several incidents are recorded every year. Even a standard laser pointer is sufficient to temporarily blind a pilot flying at a medium altitude. Such actions endanger flight safety, are dangerous, and in extreme cases can cause the pilot to lose control of his aircraft and crash. Rega pilots are obliged to report such incidents to the police. The perpetrators are acting illegally and face serious legal consequences. Such behaviour is far from simply an amusing prank. Rega also reports cases of blinding by laser to the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA).

How high are the wind speeds around the helicopter when it is taking off, landing or hovering?

Basically speaking, within a radius of 50 metres of a helicopter that is taking off, landing or hovering, top wind speeds of 50 km/h and more should be reckoned with. The topography of the terrain also has a decisive influence on the dispersion of the rotor downwash.

Does Rega also offer round trips in a rescue helicopter? Can I go along on a flight in a Rega helicopter?

While Rega is delighted at the great interest in its helicopters, we are not able to take people along for a ride. Such flights require considerable organisation and would trigger a great many additional requests. The extremely complex operations are largely financed by means of patronage contributions and voluntary donations. For this reason, we are obliged to use all our resources in a responsible and targeted manner.

When I'm out hiking, I usually take my dog with me. If something were to happen to me and I needed to be flown to hospital by Rega helicopter, what would happen with my dog?

If a casualty is accompanied by a dog, the crew will decide whether or not the animal can be taken along in the helicopter as well. Here, the size of the dog and the medical condition of the patient are taken into account. If this is not possible, Rega will ensure that the dog is either taken directly home or entrusted to the care of a person who knows the patient.

If a child is flown to hospital, can a parent accompany him/her in the rescue helicopter?

Naturally, if it is at all possible, children can be accompanied by a parent. On rare occasions, however, this is not possible due to reasons of weight.

Why doesn't Rega operate in canton Valais?

Rega performs air-rescue operations throughout all of Switzerland except for the canton of Valais. The reason for this lies in the history of Swiss air rescue. Already in the early days, when air-rescue pioneer, Herman Geiger, frequently carried out missions on behalf of Rega, his home canton of Valais started to organise its own air-rescue operations.

Emergency rescue in Valais comes under the auspices of a privately organised cantonal rescue organisation. It operates the Valais ambulance service 144 and is responsible for all rescue missions, both on the ground and in the air.

Any requests for assistance from within the canton of Valais that are received via the Rega emergency number 1414 are redirected to the competent authority in Valais, which then decides what form the emergency assistance should take (helicopter, Swiss Alpine Club rescue team, ambulance, etc.). To this day, air-rescue in Valais is still primarily carried out by the two helicopter firms, Air-Glaciers and Air Zermatt.

Rega patronage also covers missions flown by the rescue organisations in Valais. The conditions of patronage are the same as for the rest of the country.

I often go on hikes in the mountains in the border region between Switzerland and Austria. Does Rega also carry out rescue missions there?

Fundamentally, each country is responsible for its own air-rescue services. However, Rega has an agreement with the Austrian authorities whereby it is also permitted to rescue persons in distress from Austrian territory. In such cases, it is the Austrian rescue services who call out Rega.

When calling out Rega, what details about my position does the Rega Operations Centre need?

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

Nowadays, many mountain-climbers, hikers and ski tour enthusiasts carry a GPS device with them in the mountains. Is that an advantage in the case of an emergency? How important are GPS coordinates to Rega when it is called out and during the rescue missio

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.

Can Rega trace the location of my mobile phone?

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.

If I am in canton Valais and have an emergency radio with me, which rescue organisation should I contact?

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

I often go hiking in the mountains in regions just over the Swiss border. How can I contact the rescue services using an 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

How does calling out Rega by emergency radio actually work?

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

I take a satellite communication device (e.g. Garmin inReach or Spot) with me on my tours. Can I use it to call out Rega directly?

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.

What number should I call if I am in Switzerland with a foreign mobile phone and want to call out Rega? Can I simply call 1414 or do I need to precede it with an area code?

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.

Does it help Rega if I have saved an ICE (in-case-of-emergency) number on my mobile phone? What is Rega's attitude to such numbers?

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.

I am often out and about in areas where mobile phone reception is poor. How can I nevertheless call out Rega in an emergency?

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

When they are out of range, mobile phones display an «emergency calls only» message. Can I still call out Rega? And how is that possible if I am not able to make normal telephone calls?

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

Is it correct that Rega can also be called out by SMS - for example, in the case of a mobile phone battery being very low, very poor reception, or not being able to speak due to a lung injury?

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.

I am often in Alpine regions along the Swiss border. Can I still call out Rega in the event of an emergency?

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.

Is it safe to make donations online?

Yes. Online donations made via our website are subjected to the highest of security standards. Moreover, the data transmitted is governed by stringent data protection regulations.

Why does Rega needs donors as well as patrons?

With its air-rescue operations, Rega performs a public service in Switzerland without receiving any financial assistance from the State. As a result, Rega is totally dependent on the support of its patrons. However, in order to be able to guarantee swift, uncomplicated assistance by air on a long-term basis, Rega also needs people who demonstrate their solidarity by making donations, legacies or bequests.

I paid my patronage contribution just last summer and now, at the beginning of this year, I have already received another invoice. Is this correct?

Yes. A payment made during the year - irrelevant of the date - is always regarded as the patronage contribution for the current calendar year. Invoices sent out at the beginning of the year are for the renewal of Rega patronage for that year. We are aware that patrons who pay their contributions towards the end of the calendar year do not profit from a full patronage year. However, here, too, we show a certain degree of flexibility; payment made after 1 November also counts as the patronage contribution for the following year, and is valid until 15 May of the year after that (coverage approx. 1 1/2 years).

Can I pay my patronage contribution by direct debit?

No. The administrative work involved in managing such accounts is too high for this to be a viable method of payment.

Can I pay my patronage contribution by credit card?

Payment by credit card is only possible for new patrons (new registrations).

Can I pay my patronage contribution in advance?

Yes, you can pay up to five years in advance.

A change in my personal circumstances has meant that my patronage contribution needs to be amended. Can I still use the paying-in slip I have already been sent if I have informed Rega of the necessary amendments?

No. We ask you to wait with your payment until you have received the new, amended documentation. Only thus can we ensure that your payment is booked correctly under your amended patronage.

The year is drawing to an end and we have not yet received a paying-in slip to renew our Rega patronage for the coming year.

Your Rega patronage for the current year remains valid until 15 May of the year after. Paying-in slips to renew patronage are always sent out in January and February.

What can Rega's new patronage administration system do and why is it better than the old system?

In 2015, Rega completely modernised its data management system in order to be better able to serve its patrons in an increasingly complex social environment. The amended processes and data structures now allow the details of all those covered by a single patronage to be recorded; at the end of 2015, a total of 3,283,000 patrons were entered on the computer system. Until then, Rega had had no details about each individual person, but only about the number of Individual, Family and One-Parent patronages. However, this number did not include, for example, partners or minors listed under a Family patronage. While previously only one card could be issued per Family patronage, now all the family members officially registered under a single patronage receive their own personal Rega patronage card.

Is a telephone call to Rega's Patronage Centre subject to costs?

For telephone number 0844 834 844 , the standard Swiss rate of max. 81 cts/min. applies. If you call telephone number +41 (0)44 654 32 22 from abroad, the rates in the country concerned are payable.

Will the patronage cards be sent directly to each of the beneficiaries included on a single patronage or does the person who pays the invoice receive all of the patronage cards?

All the patronage documents will be sent to the person who has paid the invoice – therefore this person also receives all of the patronage cards. The only exception is the first time a patronage card is sent to a new patron, provided that this has been explicitly requested during online registration by placing a cross in the corresponding box.

I have paid my patronage contribution for the current year, but 15 May has now passed and I have still not received my patronage card. What happens if in an emergency I need to call out Rega

There’s no need to worry. Our pledge to our patrons remains valid whether you have received your Rega patronage card or not. The deciding factor is whether we have received your payment for Rega patronage. A delay in despatching confirmation of payment has no influence on the services that Rega’s patrons can benefit from.

At the end of last year, I informed Rega of various amendments to my personal data (address, family members, beneficiaries, etc.). However, at the beginning of this year, I received documents from Rega with the old, incorrect data. Why is this?

The data for the new invoices is collected in November each year. Due to the huge number of patrons, the printing and dispatch of these documents can take up to three months. If meanwhile you have made any changes to your personal details, these amendments are recorded on our system but not on the invoice. If your amendments result in a change in the invoice amount (e.g. by adding a beneficiary), please ignore this incorrect invoice and wait until you receive the correct, updated documents.

I have tried on several occasions to contact Rega's Patronage Centre by telephone but have not been able to get through. / I sent an e-mail days ago. Why have I still not received an answer?

If you have sent an e-mail, please wait until Rega contacts you. Depending on the time of year this may take some time. During the first four months of the year, we receive a particularly large number of enquiries both by telephone and in writing. It is therefore possible that during this time our Patronage Centre is difficult to reach by telephone or that it takes longer for us to reply to your e-mail than at other times of the year. Many thanks for your understanding and patience.

How can I let you know my change of address?

Please enter your new address in the online form, «Amend adress». 

The master data sheet that Rega has sent me is incorrect. What should I do?

The master data sheet shows all your personal data that is stored in our records. If something is not correct – for example, if in the meantime you have moved – there is no need to worry. Your Rega patronage is still valid. However, we do ask you to inform us of any necessary amendments so that we can keep our database up to date. To do so, please use the online form on our website. 

Why do we receive new patronage cards every year if they are valid for an indefinite period?

Since we frequently receive requests for replacement or additional patronage cards, we have decided to automatically enclose new ones with our correspondence relating to patronage renewal.

How long is my patronage card valid for?

Your patronage card - that is, your Rega patronage - always takes effect from the date of payment and is valid for the current calendar year. In the event of patronage not being renewed, it ceases to be valid on 15 May of the following year.

Do I need to carry my patronage card with me, so that in the case of an emergency I can identify myself as a Rega patron?

No. The question as to whether a person is a Rega patron or not only arises after the rescue mission has been carried out, when determining who is responsible for paying the costs.

Why isn't an expiry date given on either the patronage card or the reply slip?

The invoice you receive, e.g. for the renewal of your patronage, is an invitation to pay. Since patronage contributions are voluntary, they do not constitute accounts receivable that are payable by a given date. Consequently, patrons can decide for themselves when they wish to pay their contribution.

Are horses included in the Family patronage for farmers, in the same way as cattle?

As is set out in our Conditions of Patronage, Rega organises animal transport solely for cattle - whether they are injured, ill or dead. Rega, the Schweizer Berghilfe organisation and the relevant insurance companies are responsible for organising and performing helicopter transports on behalf of Alpine farmers provided that no other means of transport can be used. In the vast majority of cases, such operations are not carried out by Rega, but rather by commercial helicopter transport firms.

Is it possible to include my dog in our Family patronage, like farmers do with their cattle?

No, Rega's purpose is to come to the aid of people in distress and in need of emergency assistance. As a result, it operates with top-quality equipment and a highly-trained crew, including an emergency physician. A Rega mission is thus fundamentally geared towards people. There are other organisations that are responsible for the rescue of animals (with the exception of farm animals in alpine regions).

As an unmarried farmer, how much do I have to pay to ensure that my cattle are also covered for the period they spend in the alpine meadows during the summer?

Livestock owners (natural persons) need to be in possession of a Family patronage (CHF 70.-). It makes no difference if they are single or if their wife or partner are also included.

We are Family patrons. However, my wife and I are now separated and our children live with my wife. What do we need to do to ensure that all the members of our family remain Rega patrons?

You don't need to do anything. Upon payment of the Family patronage contribution of CHF 70.-, the patronage continues to be valid for both parents and their children under the age of 18. If some family members live at a different address, we would be pleased to note the change of address. If you so wish, you can also amend your patronage to 1 x Individual and 1 x Small Family.

Our children are now grown up. Why is our Family patronage not automatically amended to the category for married couples?

We cannot automatically change a Family patronage to the Couple category, as we cannot know if there really are no more (unregistered) children under the age of 18 in the family. A premature change of patronage would mean that they would no longer be included.

Do I have to be married to be eligible for Family patronage?

No. Family patronage is valid for both married and cohabiting couples.

My grown-up children no longer live with me. Do they have to register separately as Rega patrons?

Children over the age of 18 who do not live with their parents can still be listed on the same patronage form. They are simply registered as having a different address.

We no longer have any children under the age of 18. Do we still need to pay CHF 70.-?

No. Couples without any children under the age of 18 only need to pay CHF 60.-. Please inform us of the first name and date of birth of the second person.

Are my children still registered under our Family patronage after they have turned 18?

As soon as they turn 18 years of age, children who are registered as Family patrons are removed from this patronage and listed as Individual patrons (CHF 30.-).

Who is eligible for Family patronage?

Only married or cohabiting couples, together with all of their children under 18 years of age, can be registered as Family patrons.

Can our company take out a collective patronage for our staff?

No. Rega patronage is personal. However, a company can take out a personal patronage for each of its employees.

Do you offer a collective Rega patronage for school classes?

No. Rega patronages are personal. However, Rega does support sport activities carried out by children and young people within the framework of the sports promotion programme, Jugend und Sport (J+S), operated by the Federal Office for Sport (BASPO). Anyone taking part in a J+S camp in Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein who is of J+S age is deemed to be a Rega patron for the duration of the camp. Participants must, however, be registered in the sports data base before the start of the event.

As German nationals, we live near to the Swiss border. Does our Rega patronage cover repatriation back home?

No. In this case, repatriation costs do not form an integral part of patronage benefits. The entire scope of benefits only applies to patrons domiciled in Switzerland or to Swiss patrons living abroad.

I am Swiss and am planning to emigrate. Can I continue to be a Rega patron?

Yes, every single contribution is invaluable in helping us to operate competent, professional air-rescue services both at home and abroad. The entire scope of benefits offered within the framework of a valid Rega patronage are valid for patrons domiciled in Switzerland and Swiss patrons living abroad.

According to the Conditions of Patronage, only patrons domiciled in Switzerland and Swiss patrons living abroad are granted patronage benefits. Why are «foreigners» excluded from these benefits?

As a rescue organisation, Rega is only able to place its limited resources and infrastructure at the disposal of a predefined group of people. An insurance company, on the other hand, is obliged to provide all the benefits stipulated in full. Rega patrons who are resident abroad are not required to pay the cost of rescue flights within Switzerland (transport to the nearest hospital).

My friend, who isn't Swiss, spends a few weeks in Switzerland every year. Can he become a Swiss patron, too? What benefits is he granted?

Your friend can become a Rega patron at any time. If he is a patron and is in Switzerland, he enjoys all the benefits granted to patrons relating to air rescue in Switzerland (i.e. within the Swiss national borders). Benefits relating to repatriation flights from abroad are only granted to patrons who are permanently domiciled in Switzerland (irrelevant of their nationality) and to Swiss nationals living abroad. Repatriation flights to locations outside Switzerland are possible, but incur costs that Rega is not able to cover itself.

Can I give Rega patronage to someone as a gift?

Yes. You can send us the necessary details of the person concerned by registering them online. You will then receive the necessary forms for registering a patron. As soon as the patronage contribution has been paid, the patronage card will be sent in a gift presentation either to you or direct to the card holder.

Rega patronage as a gift

Can I also register someone else as a Rega patron?

You can have another person added to your patronage details and pay their patronage contribution, irrelevant of whether they live at the same address as you or not.

Does Rega offer a long-term or even life patronage?

No. To date, we have decided against introducing a life patronage for various reasons. Instead, you could arrange for a fixed-term payment order through your post office or bank, or pay your patronage contribution in advance for a maximum period of five years.

What benefits do I enjoy as a Rega patron?

In grateful acknowledgement of patrons' support, Rega can, at its own discretion and within the bounds of its resources, waive or reduce the costs of any emergency services that it has provided or organised on their 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.

Does Rega patronage also cover operations performed by the rescue organisations responsible for carrying out air-rescue in the canton of Valais?

Yes, Rega patronage is valid for the whole of Switzerland and therefore also covers missions flown by the rescue organisations in Valais.

I'm a member of the Swiss Alpine Club. Does that automatically make me a Rega patron?

No. Only SAC Youth Members under the age of 22 years are automatically Rega patrons, too.

Do you offer any reductions in the patronage contributions, for example, for students, apprentices, etc.?

Young people over the age of 18 are regarded as Individual patrons and pay CHF 30.-. However, in the past we have found that parents generally pay this additional patronage contribution or let the young persons decide for themselves if they want to demonstrate their solidarity with Rega by paying the contribution as an Individual patron.

We live together as a couple, but are registered as «Individual» patrons. Do we need to cancel these patronages and re-register under the «Couple» category?

No. You can leave things as they are and continue as Individual patrons. Generally speaking, «Individual» patronages held by couples are only combined when they wish to change to the «Family» category (parents and children under 18 years of age). However, we do recommend is that you cancel one of your two subscriptions to the Rega patrons’ magazine. To do this, use our online form.

Is it possible to call up the details relating to my patronage via the Internet, and even make any necessary amendments?

Yes, it is possible to call up your own patronage details on the Internet. All Rega patrons are sent a personal PIN code with the invitation to renew their patronage. In order to call up your personal data, you will need to enter your patronage number and this PIN code.

The personal data relating to your Rega patronage is just a mouse click away (www.admin.rega.ch). However, you cannot amend this data yourself. Amendments can be made by completing the web form that appears immediately after you have viewed your patronage data or by calling our patrons' hotline on 0844 834 844.

Is a confirmation of patronage automatically issued for tax purposes?

No. For the tax authorities, it is sufficient to send a copy of your contribution payment (a copy of your online payment is also acceptable).

Does Rega patronage count as an insurance?

No. Rega is a privately run, non-profit organisation that depends on voluntary funding. Patronage contributions are deemed to be donations. In grateful acknowledgement of patrons' support, Rega can, at its own discretion and within the bounds of its resources, waive or reduce the costs of any emergency services that it has provided or organised on their 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.

I need information about Rega for a school project, an in-depth essay or a presentation. How should I go about obtaining this?

We recommend that you first do some research on our website. In order to help you get started, we have put together some helpful tips and Information.

What does Rega do with discarded material (such as helicopter pilot helmets)? Are such items sold off cheaply to interested parties?

Discarded material that has reached its maximum service life is disposed of and, for reasons of safety and liability, not passed on to third parties for further use.

How is Rega financed?

Rega is fundamentally financed by two main pillars: the numerous patronage contributions made by the Swiss people and the income generated by the services it renders (payments from insurance companies, etc.). Patronage contributions account for around 60 % of the total revenue, which means that Rega's activities are predominantly funded by its patrons. The state, on the other hand, does not subsidise this privately run, non-profit organisation in any way.

As Rega keeps its entire infrastructure free for performing air-rescue and air-ambulance missions and refrains from carrying out any commercial activities, its operations are not cost-covering. That is comparable with a fire brigade, whose vehicles cannot be used for commercial purposes and whose stand-by services do not cover the ensuing costs. Rega's round-the-clock operational readiness means that it is not able to optimise the capacity of its helicopters and ambulance jets by carrying out commercial, non medically-justified flights.

Being constantly on standby to carry out missions at night and in remote regions requires substantial financial resources. Furthermore, from time to time, Rega's infrastructure, aircraft and equipment need to be updated if its fleet is to keep pace with the latest developments in the spheres of safety and medical equipment. This is made possible by the annual patrons' contributions.

The question as to whether such expense is justified is totally superfluous. Aviation and medicine are two areas in which standing still means taking a step backwards. Today's innovations are all too soon tomorrow's antiques. Rega will continue to consciously uphold its policy of not cutting costs in two vital areas: its staff and its rescue equipment. In this field of work, where every day minutes decide between life and death, only the very best is good enough.

How many members of staff does Rega employ?

Rega employs approximately 409 permanent members of staff (April 2018). These can be divided into the following categories:

  • Helicopter pilots (48)
  • Jet Pilots (24)
  • Medical staff (100)
  • Mechanics (33)
  • Flight coordinators (48)
  • Support / Administration (156)
Where does the name Rega come from?

Until 1979, Swiss Air-Rescue's official name in German was «Schweizerische Rettungsflugwacht», or SRFW for short, in French «Garde Aérienne Suisse de Sauvetage» (GASS) and in Italian «Guardia Aerea Svizzera di Soccorso» (also GASS). However, these names were rather long-winded and had different acronyms. This unsatisfactory situation was solved by adopting the term which until then had served as its radio code name, composed of elements from all three language versions: REGA, made up of «RE» from «REttungsflugwacht» and «GA» from «Garde Aérienne» and «Guardia Aerea».

Can I also use the «Share position» feature abroad?

Yes, but in order to transmit your position coordinates to the Rega Operations Centre or your designated contacts, the Rega app requires a mobile data connection. Depending on your contract with your mobile phone provider, this could incur costs.

Can I also use the «Monitor activity» feature abroad?

Yes. However, if you have enabled the «Monitor activity» feature and you do not respond to the acknowledgement request, an automatic check call will be sent to your smartphone. This check call originates from a Swiss number and so, depending on your mobile phone contract, may give rise to roaming costs.