DRF Luftrettung reports increase in night ops

Christoph 62
DRF Luftrettung's Christoph 62 aircraft, of the Bautzen station

German air rescue service DRF Luftrettung, which operates a total of 31 helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) bases in Germany and Austria, has reported a dramatic increase in the number of night-time operations in 2018 compared to the previous year

In 2018, crews were called out 40,090 times, effectively a four-per-cent rise in missions compared to the previous year. And in terms of night missions, numbers rose by 20 per cent.

Indeed, at the company’s Bautzen site, call outs for night missions accounted for 20 per cent of the deployments of the H145 Christoph 62 – and these figures only account for the first quarter of 2019. In the first three months of the year, DRF Luftrettung noted, the Christoph 62 crew was alerted about three times a day.

DRF Luftrettung uses its own modified helicopters for flying in the dark, which involves the deployment of two pilots with instrument-rating qualifications, a satellite navigation system with a digital map and adherence to special approach profiles, as well as the use of night vision goggles and high-intensity searchlights.

Dr Peter Huber, Chairman of DRF Luftrettung, stressed that the company constantly aims to ensure that the people of Germany and Austria receive the fastest possible medical care at any time of the day or night, and are transported to a suitable hospital. And it’s worth noting that the most frequent reasons for calling the DRF Luftrettung’s emergency services out are serious injuries from accidents or acute heart conditions – incidents where speed is key to ensuring a patient’s chance of survival. Inarguably, DRF Luftrettung’s night operations are essential to the wellbeing of the communities it serves.