1952: A Lifesaving Air Rescue Service is Launched in Switzerland

April 27, 1952

The airborne ambulance service known today as Rega — and also called Swiss Air-Rescue — was established during the ninth annual meeting of the Swiss Rescue Association (SRA). The SRA delegates in attendance at that meeting, which took place in the municipality of Twann in west-central Switzerland, formally approved creating the Swiss Air Rescue Guard (SARG) as a branch of the association.

The major force behind the founding of this air-rescue service was Dr. Rudolf Bucher (1899-1971), president of SRA. Over the years, he had become increasingly convinced of the urgent need for effective and organized aerial rescue operations in that mountainous part of the world. Bucher consequently invested his considerable expertise and energies into translating his vision of such a service into full-fledged reality.

In the decades since its establishment in Twann, this service has routinely carried out numerous rescue missions and provided various types of medical assistance for life-threatening situations in both Switzerland and the neighboring Principality of Liechtenstein. Those emergencies have involved everyone from individuals trapped in avalanches to stranded and seriously injured mountain climbers. This service has also helped farmers in high-altitude alpine areas with both rescuing livestock and retrieving dead animals.

In 1979, SARG was officially renamed Rega. This new name incorporated letters from “Swiss Air Rescue Guard” as it is spelled out in three of the prevalent languages in Switzerland – German (Schweizerische Rettungsflugwacht); French (Garde Aérienne Suisse de Sauvetage) and Italian and (Guardia Aerea Svizzera di Soccorso). Along with being one of Switzerland’s official languages, German is the official language of Liechtenstein.

The headquarters for Rega is located in a hangar at Zurich Airport in the municipality of Kloten. This service’s infrastructure also includes a total of 14 helicopter bases across Switzerland. The aircraft deployed by Rega for its operations has included Airbus Helicopters H 145 for lowland areas and the Jura mountains; Agusta A 109 SP Grand “Da Vinci” Helicopters for the Alps; and Bombardier CL-650 “Challenger” jets.

One of the better-known pilots working for Rega was aviation pioneer Ursula Bühler Hedinger (1943-2009). Hedinger, who flew for Rega for more than a quarter-century, was the first Swiss woman licensed to fly a jet and also the country’s first female flight instructor.

Photo Credit: Matthias Zepper (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

For more information on Rega (also called Swiss Air-Rescue), please check out Rega (air rescue) – Wikipedia

Additional information on Ursula Bühler Hedinger is available at Ursula Bühler Hedinger – Wikipedia

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