Chances are, STARS air ambulance has landed in your community this past year. Service is made possible by fundraising campaigns such as the recent Rescue on the Island, held Sept. 6 on an uninhabited island in Whiteshell Provincial Park.
As of Sept. 12, Rescue on the Island has raised 62 per cent of their goal, bringing in $155,457 for STARS air ambulance by five Manitoba business and community leaders at Rescue on the Island 2018, with donations still coming in.
In recent years Virden’s mayor, and then the district fire chief have both given their time to the island rescue fundraiser.
This year’s participants were: Roberta Galbraith, Members Relations Manager - Manitoba Canola Growers; James Wall, Service Manager - Janzen Chevrolet; Furlon Barker, Hollow Water First Nation – Councillor; Cheryl McKitrick, Lion's Club Member and Registered Nurse; and Rocky Neufeld, BA, AACI, P.App, Appraiser - Colliers International Realty Advisors.
“We needed STARS a year and a half ago,” said James Wall, the service manager for Janzen Chevrolet in Winkler. “My son was airlifted; he was in a bad car accident. He didn’t make it but he survived four days because of STARS and that got us four more days to spend with him. After that I learned more about what STARS is and what they do and it made me want to help raise money for them and keep them around for the next person that might need them.”
The participants were stranded on the island Thursday morning. To secure their ‘rescue’ and return to civilization, they needed to fundraise as much as possible from the island using their mobile phones and personal networks.
Each individual participated in a series of challenges, including a simulated medical scenario and survival challenges. The opportunity to learn more about STARS’ operations hands-on through the challenges enabled participants to gain a deeper appreciation of the real-life challenges faced by the STARS medical and aviation crew.
“STARS lands in the school yard across the street from where I live” said Cheryl McKitrick of Crystal City, a longtime Lion’s Club member and Registered Nurse. “When I hear the noise of the (helicopter) coming I know that some family is in need.
In southwest Manitoba, between April 2017 and April 2018, STARS based in Winnipeg flew 720 missions, landing at small towns and at some of the most out of the way places:
Hamiota five times
Rivers three times
Sioux Valley once
Souris three times
Arrow River once
In total, across Manitoba, 720 STARS missions were carried out in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
In the early 1980s, studies showed about half the deaths due to trauma could have been prevented if patients had received critical care sooner. When Dr. Greg Powell lost a young mother who was being transported from a rural area to Calgary by ground ambulance, he decided something had to change. That’s when he founded STARS.
Less than half the population of Western Canada lives in major urban centres and has access to critical care within minutes. For the other half, such access is measured in hours. That can mean the difference between life and death; full recovery or permanent damage.
With STARS, those living in rural communities, working in remote areas, travelling on highways or being transported from community hospitals to major medical centres, receive the very best in critical care via helicopters staffed and outfitted as mobile ICUs.