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STARS busy with COVID-related calls

In 2020, STARS flew a total of 33 missions in the Mountain View County geographic area
MVT STARS landing at Didsbury
A STARS Airbus H145 helicopter recently lands at the Didsbury hospital helipad. Submitted photo

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - STARS air ambulance has seen marked increase in demand for service, including in Central Alberta, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, county council heard earlier this month.

Glenda Farnden, senior municipal relations liaison with STARS, appeared by teleconference before council as a delegation to update council on recent statistics, activities and plans.

Suspected and confirmed COVID cases have accounted for about 13 per cent of STARS calls for service so far during the pandemic, with spikes as high as 18 per cent, she said.

“We see an increase in aviation due to the demand of increasing missions,” she said. “Overall, 2020 has reflected increasing missions across the province and includes critical inter-facility transfers from rural hospitals.

“A lot of people don’t realize the amount of missions that we are doing in addition to the daily demands that are COVID-related.”

In 2020, STARS flew a total of 33 missions in the Mountain View County geographic area: two near Carstairs, two near Cremona, six for Didsbury hospital critical inter-facility transfer, two near Didsbury, eight Olds hospital critical inter-facility transfer, four for Sundre hospital critical inter-facility transfer, five near Sundre and one near Water Valley.

The pandemic has hit STARS fundraising efforts very hard, she explained.

“With COVID-19 still looming around us, most of STARS’ fundraising events have all be cancelled for the foreseeable future,” she said, noting the key STARS lottery is moving forward.

Farnden gave council an update on the ongoing work to upgrade the STARS fleet with the addition of powerful new Airbus H145 helicopters.

“The new unified fleet will increase safety and significantly reduce costs,” she said, noting the new aircraft have superior range, speed and fuel-efficiency.

The county provides STARS with $2 per capita in annual support for the rescue service.

“We are truly grateful to our municipal partners like Mountain View County,” she said. “You continue to be a life-line for STARS. Thank you for being there for us.”

Coun. Al Kemmere commended STARS personnel and support staff for their efforts.

“I think all the municipalities in the Mountain View County region benefit from STARS,” said Kemmere.

Reeve Bruce Beattie thanks STARS on behalf of county residents.

“Our $2 per capita is certainly a good investment,” said Beattie.

Council accepted Farnden’s report as information.