MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - County council has been updated on recent activities and plans of the STARS air ambulance service, including as it relates to service in the vast Eastern Slopes area west of Sundre and Cremona.
The review was presented by Glenda Farnden, senior municipal relations liaison, who appeared before council as a delegation during the recent council meeting.
“I thought it was really important that you have this opportunity to know all the different areas and aspects where STARS can be of service to your residents,” said Farnden.
“Our partnership is what enhances and sustains STARS’ ability to provide critical care anywhere.”
As of June 15, STARS had responded to 31 calls this year in the Mountain View County district, including three near Carstairs, one near Cremona, six critical inter-facility transfers at Didsbury's hospital, seven critical inter-facility transfers at the hospital in Olds, two calls near Sundre, and eight critical inter-facility calls at the hospital in Sundre.
The region is averaging 53 missions per year, representing the expenditure of more than $400,000 in service value, she said.
“We hope that your residents will take comfort in knowing that they have access to STARS right here at home or if they are travelling across western Canada,” she said.
Regarding operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said STARS remains under strict protocols to protect its operations.
“We’ve taken a very slow approach to re-integrating our support staff back into the base,” she said.
STARS transport physicians continue to assist hospital personnel, providing critical care guidance, undertaking virtual consultations, and assisting local health care professionals with airway management, ventilation and resuscitation procedures, she said.
Previously one in five STARS missions was COVID-19 related, “but we are now finally starting to see decreasing cases and decreasing hospitalizations. We hope that trend will continues,” she said.
STARS is averaging 10 missions per day across six bases in three provinces, including between five and six per day in Alberta and the STARS emergency link centre received more than 36,000 emergency requests in 2021.
“Of course we don’t fly on 36,000 mission; STARS is displaced when it is critical circumstances,” Farnden said
Events supporting STARS include the STARS lottery, online 50/50 raffles and multi-provincial radiothons.
STARS remains funded by 20 per cent government support and 80 fundraising.
“We continue to be fuelled by the generosity of Albertans,” Farnden said.
The $138 million STARS fleet upgrade is now complete, with support from federal, provincial, and municipal governments, as well as corporate support and individual donations.
The new fleet’s H145 helicopters are ultra modern, with greater speed, range and fuel efficiency than previously used BK117 helicopters, she said.
The new aircraft also have excellent avionics, including auto-hover and auto-pilot.
Asked by Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers whether helipads in communities in the district are adequate for the new helicopters in the STARS fleet, Farnden said yes.
Coun. Jennifer Lutz read aloud a letter from her 75-year aunt who lives in Mountain View County and recently received transportation from STARS following a motor vehicle accident.
“There can absolutely be no doubt that I would not have survived if it wasn’t for STARS,” her aunt wrote.
Coun. Greg Harris called STARS an invaluable service in Alberta.
STARS has flown more than 50,000 missions since being founded 30 years ago.
Council accepted Farnden’s report as information.