The Swiss Air Rescue Service (Rega), 60 years in existence, had its busiest year ever in 2011 with 14,240 missions, according to the service’s annual report.
The iconic red and white helicopters were called into action 10,797 times, including more than 2,000 night flights.
Rega’s three ambulance jets carried out 698 missions last year while medical teams accompanied ill or injured patients back to Switzerland 147 times on passenger flights.
In November last year the non-profit Rega was taken aback by the launch of a rival airborne ambulance service by the Touring Club of Switzerland (TCS), in partnership with a Zurich-based company, the Alpine Air Ambulance (AAA).
TCS, a motorists’ association with 1.6 million paying members, arranges the safe return from abroad of some 800 people every year as part of its travel assistance package.
Rega is supported and funded by nearly 2.4 million patrons who benefit from its services free of charge, provided that these costs are not covered by a health or accident insurance.
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