Germany’s DRF Luftrettung celebrates 40 years

Germany’s DRF Luftrettung celebrates 40 years

13-Jun-2013 Source: DRF Luftrettung

40 years ago, DRF Luftrettung carried out its first rescue mission. Since then it has grown into a large and modern organization that operates 31 helicopter bases in Germany, Austria and Denmark for HEMS operations. Today, DRF Luftrettung acknowledged the 40th anniversary of its first mission with a ceremony.

As part of the ceremony, the 400 invited guests from politics, health insurance, hospitals and charities celebrated not only to the successful development of DRF Luftrettung, but also the official opening of the newly built Operation-Center at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airport. The new building, which among other things includes a maintenance hangar with 11 docks, offers optimal conditions for efficiently repairing DRF Luftrettung’s fleet of Eurocopters and Learjets. In addition, DRF Luftrettung has expanded capacities here for its technical and flight operations training and continuing education programmes, e.g. within the scope of the Type Rating Training Organisation or of the EASA Part-147 training operations.

Helmut Nanz, supervisory board chairman of DRF Luftrettung, opened the event and took stock of the organization’s success: “Today, DRF Luftrettung is setting the standard in European air rescue. More than 100 missions of the red and white helicopters every day speak for themselves”. Nanz emphasized the importance of DRF Luftrettung, which can look back on over 700,000 missions in the last 40 years. Because the air rescue system is becoming increasingly important in the wake of changes in the German health care system and the associated specialization of hospitals. The helicopter is often the fastest means of transport to emergency care. In addition, it is unbeatably fast when it comes to transporting patients to distant specialty hospitals – especially in rural areas.

Over the past decades, DRF Luftrettung has advanced air rescue and emergency medicine with innovations. With the development of the flight-following system Rescue Track in 2005, for example, it has made an important contribution to greater efficiency in the German emergency services. It is a technology that allows all control centre dispatchers nationwide to constantly locate helicopters and see their readiness for dispatch. This vastly simplifies the work of the control centres that are responsible for the regional planning of the use of air ambulances.

Since 2004, DRF Luftrettung has been offering mobile simulator trainings for its emergency physicians and paramedics. Here, the rescue teams train realistic emergency scenarios with the help of high-tech dolls to improve team collaboration. So far, about 2,000 participants have been trained. No other air rescue organization in Europe has as much experience in this area.

With the use of night vision goggles, DRF Luftrettung was the first air rescue organization to initiate an innovation in Germany in 2009: it now uses night vision goggles in three of their 24-hour bases. Their use was previously not permitted by the authorities in Germany for civil helicopter operations.

Future challenges
DRF Luftrettung has to get ready for the challenges of the future, because the policy framework is becoming ever more complex. Increasingly stringent EASA conditions and requirements, for example, lead to more bureaucracy, especially in the areas of operations and technology. Consequently, DRF Luftrettung has to hire additional personnel and face higher costs, e.g. due to extended licensing procedures and audits.

DRF Luftrettung is getting ready for the future by investing in its fleet: starting in 2014, it will be using the latest generation EC 145 T2 helicopter for HEMS operations. DRF Luftrettung will successively replace its fleet of Bell 412 and BK-117 helicopters with this helicopter type, which is also ideally suited for night operations. Starting in the summer 2013, DRF Luftrettung will also be using a new air ambulance aircraft of the type Lear 45 for the repatriation of patients world-wide.

About DRF Luftrettung
DRF Luftrettung operates 31 HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) bases in Germany, Austria and Denmark with over 50 helicopters for emergency rescue and intensive care transport between hospitals, at eight bases even around the clock. Under the name of European Air Ambulance (EAA) the DRF Luftrettung and the LAA (Luxembourg Air Ambulance) operate ambulance aircraft, and employ experienced pilots and medical teams for the worldwide repatriation of patients. About 700 emergency physicians, 300 paramedics, 160 pilots as well as 80 technicians are deployed with the DRF Luftrettung. In 2012, they flew a total of 38,748 missions.

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