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Rega Behind the scenes in the Swiss air ambulance

Hundreds of thousands of accident victims have the Swiss air rescue service Rega to thank for their lives. This collection of photos shows Rega’s evolution since its infancy in 1952 and gives a rare behind-the-scenes look at Switzerland’s flying ambulance.

Accidents on the road, in businesses, on remote farms or in the mountains – whenever injured people need to be brought to the hospital straightaway, Rega aircraft arrive quickly through the air. Very quickly, in fact: the helicopter launches five minutes after a telephone arrives from private citizens or the local police. It can be at any accident site in Switzerland within 15 minutes. Rega organised some 14,500 rescue operations in 2014.

On board are a pilot, a doctor and an emergency rescue worker. Rega’s work also includes repatriating Swiss who are injured or fall seriously ill while abroad. And the service even helps Alpine farmers evacuate their cows from a snow-covered Alp and fly injured or deceased animals into the valley.

To make the service work, 350 people are employed at 13 locations with 18 helicopters and three ambulance jets. The jets alone cost CHF130 million ($149 million). The costs are borne by insurance companies as well as by 2.5 million members who each pay CHF30 per year for the service.

(Text: Renat Künzi, swissinfo.ch)