Switzerland fully covered by the RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector System
October 26, 2023
Four helicopter detectors are now ready for use throughout Switzerland at the locations of Zermatt, Sion, Samedan and Lauterbrunnen. The latest two detectors were placed earlier this year. The RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector in Samedan is operated by HeliBernina and the one in Lauterbrunnen by Air-Glaciers.
The rescue teams were trained during summer and fall and can now respond to search and rescue missions year-round for people lost in the outdoors, that are equipped with RECCO reflectors. Based in Berner Oberland the SAR helicopter detector in Lauterbrunnen will cover all Cantons in Central Switzerland as well as the Canton Fribourg.
“For us, the RECCO technology is an essential tool to search for a missing person equipped with a reflector, covering a large area quickly. In the mountains, we can detect a lost or injured person, and in some cases even someone who was swept away by an avalanche. The search is carried out from the helicopter and the rescuers are thus not exposed to the danger of avalanches. We can rapidly implement a search using the helicopter detector from our bases in Sion or Lauterbrunnen. The potential for its use is great in all search situations where people are missing and where the area to be covered is large,” says Pierre Métrailler, Head of Rescue at Air-Glaciers.
The Lauterbrunnen placement will complement the other three SAR helicopter detectors and together they will provide full coverage in Switzerland. The helicopter detector in Zermatt was the first placement of the system in the world and has been operational since 2016 by the Air Zermatt crew.
“A rapidly deployable rescue technology, which efficiently and situationally massively reduces the time factor for patients as well as for rescuers,” says Daniel Dietler, Mountain Guide and Rescuer, Mountain Rescue Station Lauterbrunnen.
RECCO technology has been used by mountain rescuers and ski resorts worldwide as an electronic avalanche burial search method for many years. Rescue teams in Switzerland have been working with handheld detectors for a long time. Adding the helicopter detector expands the field of application of the RECCO technology, from an avalanche rescue system to a year-round search and rescue system for missing people equipped with a RECCO reflector.
“The technology, especially the RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector, gives us new possibilities, and complements the existing procedures in the efficient search of missing persons,” says Christian Stähli, Base Manager Air-Glaciers Lauterbrunnen and Gstaad-Saanenland.
The RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector can quickly search large areas, covering 1km2 within 6 minutes. Besides shortened search times, the helicopter-based detector can reduce the time and exposure to risk for rescuers during search missions.
“Switzerland is the country, apart from Sweden, where the development of the RECCO system started in the 80s. It has always been a focus country considering the complicated terrain and therefore complex rescue missions. With four operational helicopter detectors, we will help rescuers locate people in distress faster,” says Fredrik Steinwall, CEO at RECCO.
Julia Granhed, Communications Manager
RECCO® advanced rescue technology makes outdoor enthusiasts searchable to rescuers in case of an avalanche accident or when lost in the outdoors. The technology builds on a two-part radar system. Rescuers carry RECCO® detectors that send out search signals which are echoed by RECCO® reflectors, carried by the user. RECCO® detectors are used worldwide at more than 900 ski resorts and mountain rescue organizations in 32 countries. RECCO® reflectors are integrated into select apparel, helmets, protection gear and boots manufactured by more than 150 leading outdoor brands. RECCO AB was founded in 1983 in Sweden and is owned by its founder Magnus Granhed and the publicly traded investment company Traction AB (listed on OMX Nordic Exchange Stockholm). More info at recco.com