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The first six months of the year were a busy time for the crews of the DRF Luftrettung helicopters and air ambulances: they were called upon 18,356 times to provide rapid and highly professional medical assistance to severely ill or injured people. In the past few weeks, the crews have already noticed an increase in the number of call-outs related to swimming accidents. They rely on the cooperation of bathers and therefore appeal to them to exit the water as quickly as possible whenever a helicopter is approaching.
Whether it’s a non-swimmer falling into deep water, a strong current that pulls bathers into the middle of a river or an otherwise strong swimmer suddenly becoming exhausted, the number of swimming-related accidents – some of which are fatal – is increasing, often in unsupervised lakes and rivers. The red-and-white helicopters of DRF Luftrettung are regularly used to search for missing swimmers from the air or to provide emergency medical assistance to accident victims. With the summer holidays about to begin, Andreas Helwig – an experienced DRF Luftrettung pilot and someone who is regularly called out to swimming accidents – has an urgent appeal for bathers: “Exit the water as soon as a helicopter approaches, as this makes it much easier for us to pinpoint someone who is drowning. It also helps ensure your own safety.”
Bathers can also help if the helicopter needs to land: ‘With these kind of call-outs, it is important to quickly evacuate sunbathing areas without leaving any items behind. By doing so, you will be enabling the aircraft to make a speedy landing in direct proximity to the scene and possibly helping to save lives in cases of drowning,’ adds Helwig. According to figures from Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG), a record rise of 117 fatalities was witnessed in August 2020 alone. The water rescue organization fears that this year will see even more problems and incidents than in the 2020 season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are planning holidays in Germany, which often means excursions to unsupervised rivers and lakes.
Call-outs at an exceptionally high level in the first half of the year
In total, DRF Luftrettung crews were called out to 13,927 emergencies and 4,334 intensive care transfers in the first half of 2021. What’s more, the ambulance aircraft carried out 95 deployments in 35 countries worldwide.