DRF Luftrettung crews were called out 40,090 times in 2018, corresponding to a four per cent rise in air rescue missions over the previous year. The operator's night flight expertise was in particular demand: the number of night missions rose by a fifth. With ten 24/7 locations, DRF Luftrettung operates the most round-the-clock stations in Germany. It operates a total of 31 HEMS bases in Germany (29) and Austria (2), and its fixed-wing crews were alerted for 300 missions and dispatched to 48 countries last year. Worldwide patient transportation and rescue is coordinated and dispatched by DRF's own alert centre at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden International Airport, where the aircraft are also based.
Chairman Peter Huber states: “Our aim and conviction is to further promote development. We make 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.”
The night flight concept at DRF Luftrettung includes its 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,” continues Huber. “We set the highest standards for all parts of our work, and provide further training for our pilots with our own experienced flight instructors, teaching them to use night vision goggles or rating them on 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 by our design organisation.”
Approximately 130 dedicated engineers ensure the airworthiness of the helicopter and ambulance jet aircraft fleets, 365 days a year. The Austrian HEMS bases of ARA Flugrettung, which also belongs to DRF Luftrettung, face regular 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. 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 night time operations.