EMS – Mountain Rescue

SAF Hélicoptères operates EMS medical helicopters in France, as well as other hospital services in Europe. SAF Hélicoptères is also an integral part of the mountain rescue plan of the Prefecture of SAVOIE, in addition to state resources.


SAF Hélicoptères operates day and night, in visual or instrument flight conditions, with a modern fleet of medicalized twin-engine aircraft provided to 18 French hospitals and two Belgian associations. Our 80 experienced crews – each comprising a pilot in command and a flight assistant – are dedicated to their mission alongside EMS medical teams. This system, called ‘HéliSMUR,’ enables medical teams a high degree of agility and contributes to equal opportunities across the country in case of simultaneous multiple medical emergencies.

Mountain RESCUE

SAF Hélicoptères is the only private operator to be an integral part of the mountain rescue plan of the Prefecture of SAVOIE, 73.
SAF Hélicoptères operates from its historic base in Courchevel and provides services 7 days a week:

  • 2 EC145-C2 helicopters equipped with winch, crew members
  • Crew: pilot and winch operator
  • Maintenance technicians.

Our helicopters carry an EMS doctor and a tandem of rescuers – alternatively PGHM or CRS Alpes – in order to ensure aerial rescue on slopes, with or without winching, for the benefit of residents and tourists from 42 municipalities in Savoie, during the 5 months of the winter period. Over 400 missions are carried out each season from Courchevel.

Medical support for Sport Events

SAF Hélicoptères assists event organisers in managing medical transport with tailor-made solutions adapted to risks and the environment. In line with your needs, we will offer the aircraft from our fleet as well as specific equipment adapted: Winch, roll-in Stretcher, etc.


  • Magnicourt Grand Prix
  • 24h of Le Mans
  • Criterium des premières neiges
  • Ski World Cup
  • Various Mountain races
  • Mondial super bike

Our Fleet

SAF Hélicoptères operates its own helicopters, dedicated to medical transport and mountain rescue. This twin-engine fleet is regularly upgraded to meet the highest international standards.

On board medical equipment

SAF Hélicoptères is always attentive to our clients’ needs, we offer our partners and customers the best solutions available on the market. Keen to remain at the forefront of technology, we study all specific requests with the help of our internal design office in order to develop and certify equipment and procedures.

Our Crew

  • Our EMS crew consists of a pilot in command and a flight assistant, complemented by a medical team.
  • The Rescue crew on ther other hand consists of a pilot in command and a winch operator flight assistant, complemented by a doctor and a team of rescuers – CRS or PGHM.
  • Our pilots have extensive experience – averaging 5,000 flight hours. Our flight assistants contribute to safety in flight and on the ground, often with previous experience in medical environments (e.g. ambulance), rescue operations (e.g. firefighter), or aviation (e.g. private pilot).

Medicalized transport in France

To guarantee continuity of public service, the French government organises helicopter rescue operations around public and private players.

By whom :

  • Sécurité Civile and its fleet of red and yellow “Dragon” helicopters
  • Private operators designated by public tender to provide heliborne resources in defined geographical areas. These helicopters are currently being standardized in yellow and are medically equipped.

By December 2023, France and its overseas departments will have 54 EMS bases, 40% of which are being operated by SAF Hélicoptères.

For whom :

This service is made available to French citizens via public interest groups and hospitals.

Helicopters are equipped to transport patients on adult medical stretchers, as well as for neonatal transport in incubators.

How it works:

The service is tailored to the needs of each base:

  • Helicopter type and equipment
  • H12, H14 or 24-hour service
  • Use of night vision goggles
  • Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operation

Missions :

  • First aid : These are interventions at the scene of the accident. Civil security helicopters are primarily involved in this type of rescue. EMS helicopters can also be used to supplement or replace them.
  • Inter-hospital transfers: The primary mission of EMS helicopters is to rapidly transport medical staff and/or patients to more specialised technical facilities. This saving in medical time is particularly valuable in optimising the availability of material and human resources in health services.

Our expertise

The capabilities made available to hospitals (France), medical centers (Belgium), or rescue services (Courchevel, France) depend on the needs identified, and therefore on the environment and requirements.

  • Visual flight rules or instrument flight rules, day or night.
  • First and, to date, only French EMS operator with SPA/IFR approval.
  • Night vision goggles
  • First French EMS operator with SPA/NVIS approval in 2020.
  • Mountain winching
  • First and, to date, only French EMS operator with SPA/HHO approval on EC135 and EC145.