South Peace News
Air ambulance service in the Big Lakes County region continues to grow under STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service).
STARS is pleased that a temporary landing area has been designated at the new High Prairie Health Complex, and working towards something permanent.
That was the message from STARS officials, who updated Big Lakes County council at its regular meeting Nov. 8.
“What we have in place is wonderful, but it’s temporary,” says Glenda Farnden, STARS senior municipal relations liaison.
The site is in an open field southeast of the complex and used five times since it went into service June 29, says Greg Schmidt, base director for STARS Grande Prairie region.
“This temporary landing site is a huge benefit to patients being transferred from High Prairie, not only in terms of time savings, but also in decreased risk by limiting the number of changes in transport types,” Schmidt says.
“The intent would be that this temporary landing site be developed into a permanent certified heliport to ensure that this level of service is maintained for the residents of the High Prairie area.”
He says that would be a project of local municipalities and Alberta Health Services.
One councillor personally appreciates the value of STARS and its services.
“As a first responder, STARS is very important,” says Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard, who also serves as deputy fire chief in that hamlet.
STARS remains busy in the Big Lakes County.
“We are averaging one mission a week in the county region,” Farnden says.
Those statistics include all missions in the towns of High Prairie and Swan Hills, hamlets and Aboriginal communities in the region.
STARS has responded 25 times in the region in 2017 to Sept. 30.
Previously, STARS recorded 52 missions in 2016, 45 in 2015, 78 in 2014 and 31 in 2013.
“We are celebrating 10 years of life-saving service in Big Lakes County,” Farnden says.
“It’s important to work with communities we serve and your partnership does save lives.”
STARS is reaching out to First Nations communities to become partners.
Sturgeon Lake First Nation became the first Aboriginal community in the Peace Country to join STARS.
“We are working with the chief to seek support from other First Nations in Treaty 8,” Farnden says.
Funding from local government is vital to support the STARS services.
Many municipalities allocate funding to STARS as a standing item, since they consider it a part of protective services, she says.