“We receive $10.5 million annually from our provincial government,
but we need to fundraise the other $10.5 million. So, receiving this additional
million dollars from Redhead Equipment goes a long way to ensuring
that we’re there for the next patient who needs us,” said Johnston.
Johnston adds the $1 million donated by Redhead Equipment will go
directly to help fund the STARS bases in Regina and Saskatoon.
Helicopters operate 24/7
Initially launched in Alberta in 1985, STARS began operations in
Manitoba in late 2011 and in Saskatchewan in early 2012. In addition to its
Saskatchewan bases, the organization operates out of Calgary, Edmonton
and Grand Prairie in Alberta as well as Winnipeg, Man.
Johnston notes that each STARS base has a helicopter that is operational
24/7, ensuring that flight crews can provide medical assistance to people
living in rural and remote communities around the clock.
“We are needed each and every day in Saskatchewan,” said Johnston,
adding that the average number of STARS missions flown in the province
is two to three a day.
“To date, we’ve flown over 5,500 missions to over 500 communities in
Saskatchewan,” she said. “This last year alone, we flew 812 missions.”
According to Johnston, STARS helicopters are often used to transfer patients
from one hospital to another in cases where patients who are critically
ill are in need of more urgent care at larger medical facilities.
“We also do scene calls where we can land our helicopters in any location,”
said Johnston. “Essentially, the back of each helicopter is an ICU area.
It means we’re able to fly out to patients in need and start to begin care on
them immediately while they’re being transported back, typically to a hospital
in Saskatoon or Regina.”
Slobodian believes STARS provides some peace of mind for people
working in areas like Saskatchewan’s oilfields, knowing how time can be
saved in getting patients to hospitals in critical situations.
“When you’re working in the oil patch in the middle of nowhere, it’s
good to know there’s a program like STARS that’s ready to help if something
happens,” he said. “A lot of those oilfield companies have donated
money to STARS as well because it is a total game changer.”
According to Johnston, STARS has approximately 90 full- and parttime
employees in Saskatchewan. About 60 of these are pilots, nurses and
A flight nurse on an active call in Saskatchewan
26 | Quarter 1 2020 | saskheavy.ca