In the Valais, the war in the sky begins again

We had a feeling it was official. Rega objects to helicopter rescue contract award in Valais, citing “serious deficiencies”. He announces that this Wednesday he is appealing to the Valais State Council against the decision of the Aid Organization for the Canton of Valais (OCVS).

At the end of November, the OCVS announced that the decision was one of continuity and that there would be no changes to the rescue sector in Valais. The organization awarded the mandates to Air Zermatt for Haut-Valais and Air-Glaciers for Valais Romand after “carefully” analyzing the application files. This distribution offers “satisfactory, effective and rational coverage” of needs for the entire canton, OCVS added.

Also read: The skies of Valais remain in the hands of Air-Glaciers and Air Zermatt

Tubing procedure

Rega doesn’t see it the same way. For him, the tender procedure was “intended from the beginning for the two Valais service providers, Air Zermatt and Air-Glaciers, to win the mandate,” he said.

First of all, it believes that the needs assessment carried out by OCVS for the purpose of issuing helicopter rescue mandates “completely obscures” the shortcomings that OCVS itself listed in its September 2020 monitoring report. , the rescue system in the canton as a whole (i.e. not just air rescue) needs to be significantly improved, explains Rega spokesman David Suchet. Valais needs reinforcements in this area.

The Swiss Air Rescue Service also believes that the assessment of these needs “was carried out against the rules of impartiality”. He considers the participation of representatives of Air Zermatt and Air-Glaciers, who are members of the OCVS board of directors, unacceptable (they did not participate in the decision to issue mandates, editor’s note).

Finally, Rega claims that the evaluation of the bids was “deliberately done to his detriment.” According to him, OCVS did not take into account emergency medical aspects and maintenance of helicopters when making the selection.

Also read: Rega comes to Vala and sets the canton on fire

All devices are available

In November, OCVS stated to the press that in its file, Rega presented only one helicopter, and its aircraft is based in Sion. It is “therefore not taken into account for the rescue in Haut-Valais for geographical reasons and is not enough to meet the needs” in Valais Romand (three devices in the very high season). For the organization, the multiplication of actors is not desirable, because it “undermines the system of safety, quality and it will make it difficult in terms of administrative work”. But above all: “The addition of the company does not bring any additional value for patients”, he stressed.

On Wednesday, Rega noted that in addition to its Sion-based helicopter, it has made 14 bases available, six of which make it possible to reach Vala in a six- to thirteen-minute flight. Each base is staffed 24 hours a day by a doctor, pilot and ambulance driver, notes David Suche.

For “fair procedure”.

For decades, the Valais helicopter rescue system has been the work of Air-Glaciers and Air Zermatt. However, in September 2020, the Federal Court accepted Héli-Alpes’ request and ordered the canton to organize a call for tenders for the granting of permits to carry out rescue flights. The latter was launched in early 2022 by OCVS, which sent a letter to all the companies it could identify in Switzerland, and four applications were submitted during the period: Rega, Rega, Air-Glaciers and Heli-Alpes with Air Zermatt . Only the files of the last three players met the eligibility criteria in the specifications.

Rega’s appeal refers to the OCVS decision and does not refer to a specific file, a Rega spokesperson further clarified. It does not want to “crowd out other organizations”, but requires a “fair procedure” to strengthen the Valais rescue system.

OCVS is at its discretion

For its part, the OCVS announced this Wednesday afternoon that it was considering the appeal “presented by Regan to the State Council of Valais within the statutory period”. Also, “Taking into account the elements published in the press, conveying the one-sided arguments of the complainant”, OCVS states that it “strictly adheres to its decision of November 29, 2022, and reaffirms its relevance and quality.” .

The organization reminds that “this decision is based on a rigorous and professional special needs assessment process approved by the State Council. This guarantees the best efficiency and the greatest safety of helicopter rescue in the Valais area.” And it must be concluded that he will not comment further on Regan’s appeal, “which will be conducted according to legal channels and cannot become a public instrument.”

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