DRF Luftrettung’s annual figures for 2022: 3 per cent increase in missions for helicopters and aircraft
DRF Luftrettung recorded an increase in missions over the past year. The helicopters and aircraft of the non-profit air rescue organisation were alerted 39,308 times between January and December 2022. This represents an increase of 3 per cent compared to 2021 (38,076 missions). The main reasons behind the alerts were medical emergencies such as heart attacks or strokes, as well as accidents in traffic, at work and during leisure activities. Air rescue teams also made significant progress on key projects, such as their pilot training.
The helicopters, which are based at 29 HEMS bases throughout Germany, and the two Learjets were alerted 108 times a day on average to provide people in need with emergency medical assistance quickly and in a highly professional manner. Looking back on the past 12 months, Dr Krystian Pracz, Chairperson of the DRF Luftrettung Executive Board, said: “Even very challenging conditions have not prevented us from living up to our aspiration of providing the best, comprehensive and uninterrupted emergency assistance from the air. We were there for people, developed further and drove key projects forward. My heartfelt thanks go to all the staff who made this possible through their professionalism and dedication.”
A special moment last year was the arrival of the first trainee pilots, who began their commercial helicopter pilot training at the DRF Luftrettung Academy in September. Six men and one woman were welcomed by the trainers at the Operation Center at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport, introducing them to the new training helicopter, an R44. At present, there is no comparable training elsewhere in Europe of the quality provided by DRF Luftrettung.
In addition, the air rescue teams continued to push ahead with the renewal of their fleet: the last EC145 helicopter was replaced by a state-of-the-art H145. Progress is also being made with retrofitting a five-bladed rotor system to the H145 fleet. A total of ten aircraft are now flying with the new system. Other milestones included the introduction of NIDA software for the digital collection and transmission of mission data, as well as the launch of the DRF Luftrettung app. This is where air rescue partners such as hospitals, emergency dispatching centers and ground-based emergency services can find checklists, tips and further information. The free app aims to improve how everyone involved in emergency rescue works together to help patients.
Main reasons behind alerts: heart attacks, strokes and accidents
The DRF Luftrettung helicopters received a total of 30,787 alerts for emergency rescue missions and 8,219 alerts for intensive-care transport. The crews on the two ambulance aircraft performed 302 repatriations. The Learjet pilots flew aircraft to 44 countries, covering a total distance of 1,007,629 kilometres. The reasons behind the alerts for emergency rescue missions were largely comparable to previous years, with crews most frequently being called to patients with cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks or strokes, or to accidents and falls. The four HEMS bases equipped with rescue hoists used them 135 times in order to provide rapid emergency care for patients in hard-to-reach locations and fly them out of there. The great importance of night-time air rescue was once again on show: DRF Luftrettung’s eleven 24-hour HEMS bases performed a total of 22 per cent of their missions during the night.