How one ISL alumnus and parent found his calling as an emergency doctor

Dedication and commitment
If there’s one thing that’s iconically Swiss, it’s Rega’s red and white rescue fleet. Every day Rega helicopters can be seen and heard across the country, buzzing overhead as they tend to critically-injured patients. The helicopters are essentially mobile intensive- care units where life or death decisions happen in a matter of seconds. From traumatic road accidents to injured mountaineers, missing persons, drownings, or the transfer of highly unstable patients, Rega does it all.

One of our very own, Magnus Olofsson, father of three and an ISL alumnus, is an emergency flight physician working for Rega. Magnus shares his time between the Rega base and working as an anesthetist in Lausanne’s CHUV (Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois). Some days, he’s in the operating room or emergency room, and others, he’s out on rescue missions – either with the ambulance or onboard a helicopter.

Each shift with Rega lasts twenty-four hours, and Magnus and his team need to be ready to take off in a matter of minutes – in just about every weather condition. And it’s not always easy. Rega helicopters often need to navigate through difficult terrain or winch patients to safety.

“Working as an emergency physician can be really demanding and stressful. Some weeks, I’ll clock up to seventy hours between the hospital and emergency rescue. And no matter how tired you are, you always have to be focused, and ready to give it your all – whether you’re just starting your shift, or it’s 2am and you’ve been flying all day.”

From one generation to the next

But the challenge and adrenaline rush of emergency medicine is what drove Magnus to this career. After graduating from ISL in 2004, Magnus started medical school at the University of Lausanne and continued on to specialise as an anesthetist and then as an emergency doctor. Now, he’s working in parallel on his master of science degree in perioperative medicine from UCL (University College London) to bring perioperative care to high-risk patients undergoing surgery and improve their chances of survival.

For Magnus, ISL provided the perfect gateway to this career: “I really loved biology in high school, and our teacher really inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I was also student body president in my final year, and I think that gave me a taste of what it’s like to lead and take decisions, which is what I do every day now. I think ISL did a really great job of helping me find my path in life, and I hope it does the same for our children.” Magnus and his wife, Sarah, have two children enrolled at ISL – Lina in Year 2 and Mia in Reception 3. Their third child, Nils, will be starting as soon as he’s old enough. Now, their girls walk the halls of the school, looking for their dad in the old class photos on the wall, or for his name on the red bricks that pave the entrance to the school. “It’s really something to have your kids go to the same school as you did. It’s like you’re passing on your legacy to the next generation.”

Gradient Issue #2: The magazine of the International School of Lausanne

In this edition, we explore how our community has coped during this special year to make the best of it. We have a special section on multilingualism and how it can both benefit and challenge our students. Caroline Leenders our Head of Alumni Relations, explains how alumni and students managed to meet despite the pandemic.