STARS busy responding to Camrose calls
STARS helicopters have been called to Camrose 10 times this year and 48 times in the last 19 months.
"They have been both inter-facility transfer and on-scene calls," explained Jane Styles, manager, major gifts, Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) Foundation, in a presentation at City council's committee of the whole meeting Aug. 7.
The STARS Foundation has five BK 117 helicopters, each with a flight radius of 250 km, that serve 94 per cent of Alberta's population from bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.
"We are dedicated to providing a safe, rapid, highly specialized emergency medical transport system for the critically ill and injured," said Styles. "The time from the first call to being airborne is 8 to 10 minutes."
Inter-facility calls account for 64 per cent of all the STARS missions. Of the scene calls, 44 per cent are for motor vehicle collisions, 25 per cent are for medical (cardiac, pulmonary), 11 per cent are for incidents that are related to recreation (ATVs, hiking, horses, skiing), seven per cent are for trauma (falls, drownings), eight per cent are for other (burns, assaults, gun shot wounds), and seven per cent are for trauma (falls, drownings, train and plane accidents). Three per cent of the calls are industrial related and two per cent have to do with agriculture operations.
STARS has flown 23,000 missions since 1985, with 356 of those being in Camrose County. The number of missions to the city of Camrose since 2004 is 179.
"We are committed to being there when people need us," said Styles.
STARS will be taking delivery of a new $19 million AW139 helicopter at its Edmonton base at the end of this month.
"It will be 25 per cent faster and will be able to cover a greater service area," said Styles.
In addition to providing emergency service, the STARS Foundation operates a safety centre which provides training in landing zone and technical search and rescue, and an outreach program that provides a forum for the exchange of information between STARS and other organizations it serves, including fire, learning practitioner nurses, physicians, emergency medical service, industry, police, registered nurses and students.
"We have had people come on many occasions to take advantage of the programs and training we offer," said Styles.
The Foundation also offers a critical care and transport medicine care academy to prepare nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and physicians for a career in transport medicine or enhance their knowledge of critical care.
"It is the only one of its kind in North America," said Styles. "It is a 15-week on-line course so the professionals who are taking it can stay in their own community and work. We have been receiving requests for information on the program from all over the world."
The STARS Emergency Link Centre links emergency services, emergency physicians and appropriate transportation providers into one conversation. The centre allows transport decisions to be made early, improves physician to physician consultation and decision making, and ensures the continuation of dedicated, consistent, time-sensitive resources for rural patients.
STARS receives 25 per cent of its funding from the Alberta government and 75 per cent from associations, corporations, individuals and municipalities. The provincial government has pledged to provide 10 million to STARS over the next ten years but as of yet, no contract has been signed and no perimeters have been set.
"Even with the increased funding we will still count heavily on donations," said Styles. "We don't want to be fully funded by the government because that would restrict what we are able to do and the services we are able to provide."
Councillor John Howard said STARS is an essential service for which the provincial government needs to assume more responsibility financially.
The annual cost of delivering the STARS program to Albertans is approximately $30 million.