The STARS air ambulance has started with round-the-clock operations at its Regina base.
Prior to July 30, the STARS Regina base has only operated 12 hours per day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Now that the majority of clinical and aviation staff have had time to become comfortable with the terrain and providing service in an air medical environment, STARS has decided to expand its hours.
“Safety is our first priority,” said vice-president of Saskatchewan operations Ron Dufresne. “Our crew is now equipped with the knowledge, resources and technology to operate at night just as safely and effectively as they do during the day.”
All STARS pilots are trained and certified in the use of night vision goggles, a technology that STARS began using in 2003. The goggles significantly increase the ability to locate and reach patients at night. STARS is the only civilian helicopter air ambulance service in Canada to have a night vision goggle program.
To support the 24-hour operation, four additional pilots were recruited and trained, along with eight additional flight paramedics and flight nurses. The helicopter crew on every mission includes two pilots, a flight nurse and flight paramedic who both have critical care training.
An emergency physician trained in pre-hospital care and transportation is also available for every emergency response and travels in the helicopter whenever medically necessary.
The STARS base at the Regina International Airport is now equipped with crew quarters which provide washing, kitchen and sleeping facilities for the pilots and air medical crew.
Since its launch on April 30, STARS has flown 32 missions from its Regina base. Their first was to the Arcola area.
“We’re excited about the prospect of reaching out to help more Saskatchewan people, first with our extended hours of availability and, second, with the addition of another base located in Saskatoon, anticipated for later this year,” said Dufresne.
A charitable, non-profit organization, STARS provides rapid and specialized emergency medical care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. STARS currently operates from five bases across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Since 1985, STARS has flown more than 23,000 missions. A new base is anticipated to open in Saskatoon in late 2012.