STARS air ambulance flying high after $400K donation

A $400,000 donation by FortisAlberta to STARS air ambulance is helping rural medical staff with their emergency skills.

Encana’s support for STARS has surpassed $2.5 million — the most by any supporting company.

Encana’s support for STARS has surpassed $2.5 million — the most by any supporting company.



A $400,000 donation by FortisAlberta to STARS air ambulance is helping rural medical staff with their emergency skills.

On Thursday, FortisAlberta announced the donation over five years for STARS’ mobile education program, which uses mannequins called human patient simulators.

STARS has a motorhome based in Calgary, another in Edmonton, and one truck in Grande Prairie equipped with mannequins that travel around Alberta to allow doctors and nurses at smaller hospitals, and other emergency personnel, to practise medical procedures.

Mannequins inhale oxygen, exhale carbon dioxide and blink with reactive pupils. They have a heartbeat and pulse and can mirror human responses to procedures like intravenous medication and intubation.

“They can simulate a heart attack. They can simulate a stroke. The people who are doing the training begin to actually feel like it’s a real person that they’re trying to save,” said Phil Levson, vice-president of the STARS Foundation.

“In smaller, rural communities, the local physician would rarely do a emergency procedure so they never get the practise.”

Mobile units try to travel to all the service areas that STARS helicopters fly.

The funding announcement was made at the at Fortis Alberta Employee Development Centre near Red Deer.

FortisAlberta president and CEO Karl Smith said a poll of its employees showed STARS was their overwhelming charity of choice. The company owns and operates more than 60 per cent of Alberta’s electricity distribution network.

By 2016, FortisAlberta will have contributed $1.4 million to the STARS education program.

Power line technicians in rural communities say they rest more easily knowing STARS is there to help coworkers, friends and family, Smith said.

On Wednesday, a team from STARS won the 2011 METI Cup international competition at the Air Medical Transport Conference held in St. Louis.

STARS was one of 11 two-member teams competing in the annual critical care skills event that uses state-of-the-art mannequins to perform lifelike emergency medical procedures.

It’s the fourth time that STARS has won.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate