Swiss air rescue flying injured US soldiers

Swiss air ambulance service Rega has been transporting injured US soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq to the US base in Germany, it has emerged.


Swiss air rescue flying injured US soldiers

According to the Handelszeitung newspaper, Rega has landed 17 times with injured US soldiers at a US base in Ramstein, Germany.

Rega did not want to confirm to whether the soldiers are being collected from Kabul or Baghdad.

“We always clarify the security situation of the destination precisely. The risk must be acceptable, otherwise we will not fly,” Rega communications director, Sascha Hardegger, told newspaper 20 Minuten.

He also underlined the fact that the flights were made for humanitarian reasons, to rescue sick or injured people, and were never part of a combat mission.

Rega earned good money from the US army for these flights, as well as gaining some important experience and medical and operational knowledge, Hardegger said.

Since Rega is a private foundation, the Swiss foreign ministry said the air rescue service did not require its permission to transport injured US soldiers.

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Hikers saved by Whatsapp message after falling in Swiss mountains

Two men were thankful to be alive after spending six hours stuck on a ledge in the mountains on Sunday in -10C temperatures.

Hikers saved by Whatsapp message after falling in Swiss mountains
File photo: Rega
The pair, Germans aged 23 and 24 who live in Switzerland, were walking in the mountains near Obstalden in the canton of Glarus on Sunday when they slipped on a patch of ice and fell more than 200m, reported 20 Minutes on Wednesday.
Slightly injured, the pair were stuck on a ledge with a steep slope above and below, offering them no chance of extricating themselves from the situation. 
What’s more, they had lost their backpack containing clothing, drinks and a flashlight. 
“We weren’t equipped for sleeping outside. It was -10 degrees and our shoes were full of snow,” the 23-year-old said.
Though their phones were very low on battery and they had no signal to make calls, they did have internet service, so they managed to send a Whatsapp message to three friends explaining their predicament and giving their location.
“After that, the phone died,” the young hiker told the paper.
The pair had to wait six hours but were finally reached by Swiss air rescue service Rega.
“We had hypothermia. A Rega expert told us that we wouldn’t have had much chance of surviving if we’d stayed there in the cold much longer,” said the young German. 
The pair now face a bill of 8,000 francs for their rescue, according to the paper. 
Rega rescues around 600-900 hikers every year. 
Individuals and families can pay an annual donation to become a patron of the non-profit organization. 
Rega can “at its own discretion and within the bounds of its resources” waive or reduce the costs of emergency rescue to patrons if their insurance company is not liable to reimburse the costs.
Rega also has a mobile phone app that uses GPS to quickly and easily transmit a person's location data to rescuers in the event of an emergency. However the app does require phone signal.