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Rega – Swiss Air-Rescue, to home page

Questions and answers

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

  • Each adult person must register separately for a patronage (CHF 40.–). Each child should also be registered as a patron; their patronage is, however, free of charge. All the relevant documents will be sent together to you at the address you have provided.

  • The transport of patients with contagious diseases is one of Rega’s tasks, and our crews can perform such transports using a rescue helicopter. Rega is well prepared for this and the crews have been trained accordingly.

  • The rescue helicopter does not have to be modified for a mission of this kind, but when transporting contagious patients, the crews need to take special precautionary measures, protect themselves accordingly and disinfect the equipment after the mission. Moreover, the cabin of all of Rega’s helicopters is large enough to conduct such transports safely. Over the last few days, Rega crews have completed special training courses in preparation for an increase in such transports.

  • The transport of patients with contagious diseases is one of Rega’s tasks, and our crews can conduct such transports both in an ambulance jet and in a rescue helicopter. Repatriation in the event of a proven case of coronavirus infection is therefore fundamentally possible.

  • Rega helps whenever it can. Whether repatriation is medically indicated and sensible is decided by our experienced medical consultants at the Rega Operations Centre.

    In the event of medical problems abroad, you, as a patron, can request help around the clock via the emergency number +41 333 333 333. Our flight coordinators and medical consultants will advise and help you – for example, with finding the nearest suitable clinic abroad or if you have language problems. Rega can fundamentally only repatriate ill or injured people after they have been hospitalised in the foreign country.

  • Rega’s ambulance jets are reserved for transporting patients. Therefore, non-infected, healthy persons who wish to return to Switzerland cannot be repatriated by Rega.
    The travel recommendations of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) with focus on coronavirus can be found on the website www.fdfa.admin.ch.

  • With the test alarm, you can make sure that the alarm feature will work correctly in an emergency. It checks whether your location can be retrieved and transmitted. As soon as you have successfully initiated a test alarm, you will receive a confirmation message. It does not set up an actual call with the Rega Operations Centre.

  • The problem with the "Share Live Location" function has since been fixed, and an update to 3.0.2 (iOS) should remedy the situation.

  • Yes, the test alarm also works abroad. However, depending on your contract with your mobile phone provider, this could incur costs.

  • In order for an alarm call to be initiated, at least a minimal connection with a mobile 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 mobile phone.

  • First, the location services feature needs to be enabled in your smartphone 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 smartphone cannot be received. If possible, you should change your location and initiate the alarm call outside in the open air.

  • For deaf people, we recommend the following:

    Download the Rega app onto your smartphone, 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 "(deaf, via SMS)" under "Family name" – if you raise the alarm, this field is always transmitted to the Rega Operations Centre.

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

  • 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 by using the Rega app.

    If, on the other hand, you are sure that you are outside Swiss territory, you should call the local rescue services, the European emergency number 112 or the number 911. Experience has shown that this is the quickest way to deal with emergencies beyond the Swiss border.

  • After a rescue mission or during a repatriation operation, Rega checks whether the patient is a Rega patron. This is one reason why this data is recorded. In addition, Rega uses the patronage data to provide age-appropriate information about its activities.

  • When you are pursing outdoor activities (e.g. hiking), you can share your live location with Rega or your own contacts. Then friends or relatives can track your route.

    In an emergency, Rega can determine your last location and send help. You can also alert Rega on behalf of another person who has shared their location with you but is not able to raise the alarm themselves. In addition to your location, the location of the person in distress is then transmitted to the Rega Operations Centre – so that medical assistance gets to where it is needed as quickly as possible.

  • Rega generally stores your location data for a maximum of 96 hours, after which it is deleted. Other personal details are stored for as long as the app is installed on your smartphone or, if it is optional data, until you delete them.

    In the event that a mission is carried out, the relevant data is retained together with the mission data, and the provisions laid down in Rega’s General Data Protection Statement apply.

  • Before the release of the new version, we tested the Rega app extensively on various devices and operating systems. Unfortunately, it can happen that errors occur in certain constellations that cannot be detected in the previous testing, or only with difficulty. Please report the error to us with a short description at info@rega.ch. Errors reported to us will be addressed immediately and corrected on an ongoing basis.

  • The only people who can see your live location are those to whom you sent the link from the Rega app. In order for your location to be displayed, the recipient of the link must also have installed the Rega app.

  • Your location data is automatically deleted as soon as the "Live location" feature has been disabled.

  • Yes, but in order to transmit your live location to Rega 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.

  • 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.

  • Your personal details are extremely helpful for our Operations Centre. Important: It is not mandatory to enter your personal data to be able use the app to raise the alarm.

    However, we recommend that you at least enter and verify your mobile phone number so that Rega can contact you in an emergency.

    To ensure that your profile details are complete, we also recommend that you enter your patronage number and your postcode. Then your personal details can be clearly assigned to a specific Rega patronage. These details are transmitted when the alarm is raised, and after a mission they also help to ensure that the administrative work is completed as efficiently as possible.

  • The language in which the Rega app is displayed depends on the language setting on your device. The app is available in German, French, Italian and English. If your smartphone is set to another language 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.

  • The main function of the Rega app is to call out Rega quickly and easily in an emergency. You can alert Rega with a tap of the finger. Your location is then automatically transmitted directly to the Operations Centre. This saves valuable time in an emergency. The user-friendly Rega app should therefore be installed on every smartphone.

    Besides Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the new version of the Rega app is also available for download in the app stores in Germany, Austria, France and Italy. This benefits tourists from neighbouring countries who are out and about in Switzerland, as well as piste rescue services close to the Swiss border, who frequently use the app to call out Rega direct from the ski slopes.

    An overview of all the features of the Rega app can be found here.

  • The Rega app is available for iOS and Android and can be downloaded free of charge in the app stores in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, France and Italy.

    In order to ensure that the app functions correctly 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 the app, you will need Android 6.0/iOS 13 or higher.

    If the Rega app is not available for a particular mobile device, the Rega Operations Centre offers another way to locate a person in an emergency. In order to pinpoint the precise location 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, the location services feature should be enabled in the smartphone settings and the use of the location authorised for the mobile browser. Smartphones with a foreign SIM card must also enable data roaming.

  • The Rega app is available in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well in as the neighbouring countries Germany, Austria, Italy and France.

    The Rega app is currently not available in other app stores.

  • Like many other apps, the Rega app requires 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 the alarm is raised via the Rega app, the caller’s location is transmitted directly to Rega’s Operations Centre. The flight coordinator sees this location directly on the map on their monitor, and can thus mobilise the appropriate means of rescue more quickly. The automatic transfer of data also prevents errors from occurring, which might otherwise arise when giving coordinates verbally in a stress situation.

    Besides the coordinates, the personal details stored in the app, as well as information about the battery level of the smartphone, are transmitted to Rega – data that in certain circumstances can be important for the further communication between the Operations Centre and the person raising the alarm.

  • 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).

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

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • 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:

     

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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

     

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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 www.swissalpinerescue.ch.

  • 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.
  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

    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:

    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 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.

  • 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.

  • Your patronage takes effect on the date of payment and if it is not renewed expires on 15 May of the following year. The payment date has no impact on the length of time the patronage is valid.

  • New patrons can pay by credit card via the website (see under “Become a patron”). Existing Rega patrons will receive an invoice with a QR code so that they can pay online (by credit card, etc.).

  • 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.

  • Calls to phone number 0844 834 844 are charged at a rate of 7.5 cents/min. (plus VAT), regardless of where in Switzerland you are calling from. If you call +41 44 654 32 22 from abroad, the rates in the country concerned apply

  • 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.

  • The data for the new invoices is prepared in December each year. Due to the large number of patrons, the printing and dispatch of these documents can take up to three months.

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

  • The patronage 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 changed your address – you don’t need to worry. Your Rega patronage is not affected in any way. However, we do ask you to notify us of any necessary amendments so that we can keep our database fully up to date. To do so, please use the online form on our website.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The patronage card – that is, Rega patronage – always takes effect on the date of payment and is valid for the current calendar year. If the patronage is not renewed, it expires on 15 May of the following year.

  • 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 livestock in alpine regions).

  • Rega patronage also covers livestock provided that the owner is a natural person and a Rega patron.

  • You need to register a patronage for each member of the family: for each adult a patronage for CHF 40.–  and for each child under the age of 18 a free patronage.

  • Even if the children do not live with their parents, the parents can continue to pay their patronage contributions. In such a cases, the parents should give the children’s address.

  • No, the patronage will automatically be changed into an adult patronage, for which an annual contribution is payable. When they turn 18, young persons can decide for themselves if they want to remain a Rega patron and pay the contribution themselves.

  • No, a Rega patronage is personal. However, Rega does support sports activities carried out by children and young people within the framework of the sports promotion programme, Jugend+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 database before the start of the event.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Yes, you can contact our Patronage Centre and provide us with the personal details of the person to whom you are gifting the patronage. The patronage documents will then be sent directly to you or the person concerned in the form of a gift.

    Rega patronage as a gift

  • You can pay the patronage contribution for whomever you like, irrelevant of whether they live at the same address as you or not.

  • No. A life patronage is not possible.

  • 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.

  • Yes, Rega patronage is also valid for missions performed in Valais by the local rescue organisations. The Conditions of Patronage are the same as for the rest of the country.

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

  • Children and young people can register for a free patronage up to their 18th birthday. Young people aged 18 or over are deemed to be adults and therefore should register for an adult patronage (CHF 40.–).

  • No, it is not possible to retrieve the data via the Internet. However, changes to the data can be sent to us via online form or submitted by contacting our Patronage Center at 0844 834 844.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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».

  • Rega employs approximately 450 permanent members of staff (January 2022). These can be divided into the following categories:

    • Helicopter pilots (54)
    • Jet Pilots (28)
    • Medical staff (122)
    • Mechanics (35)
    • Flight coordinators (50)
    • Support / Administration (154)
    • Apprentices (7)
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.