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Medical air rescue as provided by DRF Luftrettung (German Air Rescue) is developing into an ever more important sector. The rapid evolving technology in air operations through to medical care is reflected in the increased number of air rescue missions in 2018. DRF Luftrettung crews were called out 40,090 times which corresponds to a 4 percent rise in air rescue missions over the previous year.
The night flight expertise of DRF Luftrettung was in particular demand in 2018; the number of night missions rose by an immense 20 percent. With 10 locations, DRF Luftrettung operates the most 24-hour stations in Germany. Throughout Europe, it has the greatest experience in nighttime air rescue missions, with the highest number of hours flown.
DRF Luftrettung operates a total of 31 HEMS bases in Germany and Austria. The crews of the modern helicopters are on stand-by daily to react to rapid emergency rescue missions and the urgent transportation needs of intensive care patients between clinics. In addition, two ambulance aircraft are also available for dispatch 24-7 for repatriation of patients on a global scale.
The DRF Luftrettung’s ambulance jet aircraft are manned with experienced crews and are essentially flying ICUs. They were alerted for 300 missions and dispatched to 48 countries in 2018. Worldwide patient transportation and rescue is coordinated and dispatched by the company’s own alert center at the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden International Airport, where the aircraft are also based.
In addition to expertise in worldwide operations, DRF Luftrettung also possesses comprehensive know-how and experience in nighttime rescue. Dr. Peter Huber, chairman of DRF Luftrettung, emphasized this: “Our aim and our conviction is to further promote development in this area. DRF Luftrettung makes a considerable contribution to the fact that people in Germany receive the fastest possible medical care at any time of the day or night, and are transported to a suitable hospital.”
This can be a matter of life or death in the event of serious injuries from accidents or acute heart conditions, which are the most frequent reasons for calling the DRF Luftrettung’s emergency services out, also at night.
The night flight concept at DRF Luftrettung includes the company’s own modified helicopters for flying in the dark, the deployment of two pilots with instrument rating qualifications, a satellite navigation system with a digital map, adherence to special approach profiles as well as the use of night vision goggles and high intensity search-lights.
“We offer professional air rescue from one source. We set the highest standards for all parts of our work,” Dr. Huber continued. “We provide further training for our pilots with our own experienced flight instructors, such as in using night vision goggles or for new helicopter types. We are also committed to developments in emergency medicine; we regularly test new medical equipment on board our helicopters and introduce them to all stations if they prove useful for our patients. Any necessary modifications to our helicopters can be carried out in our design organization.”
What makes DRF Luftrettung a key contributor to safety, quality and innovation in air rescue is its own operation center at the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden International Airport, Germany. Approximately 130 dedicated engineers ensure the airworthiness of the helicopter and ambulance jet aircraft fleets, 365 days a year.
DRF Luftrettung’s sales department offers a complete range of services to private or commercial customers as well as to other aviation operators. National and international customers benefit not only from the extensive expertise of DRF Luftrettung in air rescue and technical services, but also from an array of flight operation training courses.
The Austrian HEMS bases of ARA Flugrettung, which also belongs to DRF Luftrettung, are faced with special challenges. The helicopters stationed in Tyrol and Carinthia are equipped with a winch to provide rapid assistance for emergencies in the high altitude regions of the Alps. State-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopters have been used at the stations since last spring.
DRF Luftrettung is also involved in the AP³ Luftrettung network at another station in Balzers/Liechtenstein with day and nighttime operations.