Preparation for the use of Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), at the Regensburg HEMS base of HDM Luftrettung is gaining pace: The helicopter of type EC 145 completed multi-day tests conducted by Eurocopter, the helicopter manufacturer, on NVG capability last week. Pilot training goes along with it. In April 2011, the regular NVG operation will start in Regensburg. It is, after Munich, the second HEMS base in Germany that is allowed to use Night Vision Goggles in air rescue operations.
At Eurocopter, “Christoph Regensburg“ was subjected to a test in a darkroom: Because Night Vision Goggles intensify any light that is present in the dark, a check had to be made, for example, to find out to what extent disturbing light sources or reflections were present in the helicopter cockpit. In subsequent flight tests, a check was carried out to find out whether in the cockpit displays, there was still room for improvement for day and night flights.
"With the Eurocopter tests, we are a little bit closer to our goal of using Night Vision Goggles on board the ‘Christoph Regensburg’. In the next step, the European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA, will look over the test results, and will hopefully provide us with the authorization soon”, explains Johann Haslberger, responsible for training at HDM Luftrettung.
Comprehensive training of the pilots
The comprehensive training of the pilots is a further milestone in the preparation for the use of Night Vision Goggles. HDM Luftrettung was able to use the already-existing training experiences of its Munich pilots, who have been using Night Vision Goggles on board the “Christoph MÃ¼nchen” for over a year. In the meantime, all the pilots in Regensburg have completed their theoretical training and have started with their practical training. The contents of that training are on, for example, how to handle the goggles during a flight, and how to use the goggles when approaching the emergency location. An additional focus is on procedures in emergency situations.
The Night Vision Goggles, which are attached to the pilots’ helmets, provide the pilots with a new visual capability at night. Obstacles, such as high-voltage lines and wind turbines can be better detected, and at an earlier stage. Also, difficult weather conditions can be better distinguished and avoided by flying different routes. Consequently, NVGs make an important contribution to safe flight rescue at night.
HDM Luftrettung: Night flight experts
HDM Luftrettung has made a name for itself in the past 20 years by its competency in the area of night flights. It operates five 24-hour HEMS bases in Germany, three of which are in Bavaria (Munich, Regensburg, and Nuremberg). In no other German state is there such an intensive network of helicopters, which are in operation around the clock. The German Aviation Authority (LBA) provided HDM Luftrettung, as the first civil air rescue company in Germany, with the authorization to use Night Vision Goggles. The Munich crew at HDM Luftrettung has been flying successful night rescue missions with NVGs since July 2009.
About the Regensburg helicopter
The helicopter, which is equipped with two pilots, an emergency physician, and a paramedic, is in dual use-operation, as a rescue and intensive transport helicopter. It is in operation 24 hours a day. The helicopter with the radio call sign “Christoph Regensburg” is equipped with all the medical technological devices that are required for the optimal care of intensive and emergency patients. Within 15 minutes, the helicopter can reach any operational location within a radius of 50 km.
In emergency situations at night, “Christoph Regensburg” is called on to care for and transport emergency patients directly to the operational location. Those night missions are flown based on particular procedures, for which pilots have undergone special training. In addition, the helicopter crews transport newborns and premature infants, as well as transplantation teams. Also, transports of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or with circulatory failure are conducted by maintaining intensive medical therapy. For example, the helicopter transports critically ill patients, who are attached to the transportable mini-heart-lung-machine “Cardiohelp”. These missions are conducted with the university clinic of Regensburg, which has also developed the system.
About DRF Luftrettung
HDM Luftrettung belongs to DRF Luftrettung. DRF Luftrettung operates 31 HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) bases in Germany, Austria and Denmark with round 50 helicopters for emergency rescue and intensive care transport between hospitals, at eight bases even around the clock. All helicopters are optimally equipped for the care of emergency and intensive care patients. Three ambulance aircraft are employed for the worldwide repatriation of patients. In 2009, DRF Luftrettung carried out 40,375 air rescue flights.
The DRF Luftrettung consists of a non-profit sponsoring association, a foundation under civil law and a non-profit corporation with the subsidiaries of the latter. The foundation, which is controlled by the Regional Council (RegierungsprÃ¤sidium) of Stuttgart, supervises the operative work of the non profit corporation.
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