STARS turns 5 in Saskatchewan


April 30 marked the five year an­niver­sary of the launch of STARS (Shock Trauma Air Res­cue Ser­vice) in Saskatchewan skies.

STARS has quickly be­come a vi­tal link in Saskatchewan’s emer­gency medical ser­vices net­work, work­ing in con­junc­tion with ground am­bu­lances and fixed wing air­craft in get­ting crit­i­cally in­jured and ill pa­tients quickly to emer­gency rooms in Regina and Saska­toon.

Since be­gin­ning op­er­a­tions in the province in 2012, STARS has flown over 4,000 mis­sions.

“Its been quite a ride,” ad­mit­ted STARS Pres­i­dent and CEO An­drea Robert­son. “When you sit back and you think five years in, we’ve flown over 4,200 mis­sions.”

“That’s a lot of peo­ple, a lot of com­mu­ni­ties, and a lot of fam­i­lies. When we fly it’s typ­i­cally a very, very bad event in your life.”

STARS he­li­copters are out­fit­ted as mobile In­ten­sive Care Units, and they cut vi­tal travel time for sick and crit­i­cally-in­jured pa­tients from ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and re­mote ar­eas. Each flight is staffed by two pi­lots, a flight nurse and a para­medic. STARS is es­sen­tially a trav­el­ling emer­gency room, so they re­spond to ac­ci­dent scenes as well as pro­vid­ing in­ter-hospi­tal trans­fers to help re­duce travel time for ru­ral pa­tients fac­ing life threat­en­ing cri­sis.

“If you need that re­ally spe­cial re­source, then we’re there. It’s an ad­di­tion to the health sys­tem, and ob­vi­ously 4,200 have needed one,” Robert­son pointed out.

STARS is no stranger to the South­west, as Swift Cur­rent rates as the Saskatchewan com­mu­nity which had the most STARS vis­its dur­ing 2015-2016 with 47 trips.

In 2015-2016, STARS across Western Canada flew a to­tal of 3,423 mis­sions, and since 1985 STARS has car­ried out 33,000 mis­sions across the prairies. Out­side of Saskatchewan, STARS also op­er­ates out of three Al­berta lo­ca­tions (Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton, Grande Prairie), plus they cover Man­i­toba from a base in Win­nipeg.

In fact, the STARS or­ga­ni­za­tion has ac­cess to 100 crit­i­cal care physi­cians, and as a group they are al­ways look­ing at how they can im­prove their ser­vice and im­prove the care for the next pa­tient. One ma­jor im­prove­ment over the years has been their abil­ity to carry stocks of blood on­board in­stead of mak­ing he­li­copters stop at hos­pi­tals along the way to pick up nec­es­sary blood.

“The whole idea of Blood On Board started in Regina,” she points out. “It had been tried to be im­ple­mented else­where in the or­ga­ni­za­tion for years and years, and it got solved in Regina. Now we carry blood on the air­craft at all of our bases in Man­i­toba, Saskatchewan and Al­berta.”

“That’s the ben­e­fit. You fig­ure some­thing out that’s re­ally go­ing to change and save lives, and then you can spread that across all of Western Canada. It’s pretty awe­some.”

STARS is cur­rently in the early day of their Saskatchewan STARS Lottery 2017. A to­tal of 2,016 prizes worth more than $4 mil­lion re­tail is up for grabs. The list of prizes in­cludes two grand prizes, 11 va­ca­tions, seven ve­hi­cles, plus many more. There is also a Lucky Stars 50/50 which of­fers a prize of up to $800,000.

The char­i­ta­ble, non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion re­lies on sup­port from both the cor­po­rate sec­tor and com­mu­nity fundrais­ing ef­forts. The Saskatchewan

gov­ern­ment pro­vides 50 per cent of their op­er­a­tional fund­ing, with STARS tasked to raise the other half of their fund­ing needs.

“The lottery is al­most one-third of that fund­ing ev­ery year. So it’s a very im­por­tant fundraiser for us,” Robert­son noted.

She ad­mit­ted that Saskatchewan res­i­dents have shown their ex­ten­sive gen­eros­ity by buy­ing STARS lottery tick­ets, STARS calendars, hold­ing fundrais­ers, bake sales, and even young chil­dren are do­nat­ing their birth­day money to STARS.

“Ev­ery sin­gle penny helps be­cause the money goes di­rectly to keep­ing the air­craft and our crew in the air.”

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the Stars Lottery 2017 can be found at http://starslot­

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