Lorinda Bye knows well the importance of the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society.
She credits STARS, as it is known, for saving her life when she was terribly injured near Rocky Mountain House.
Now 25 years old, Bye had just finished high school in Calgary at age 17 in 2009, and with a group of friends and her sister, had gone out to Cow Lake near Rocky Mountain House for a camping trip celebration.
They had one last night to go, on Aug. 3, when a freak windstorm blew through. A tree was blown down onto her tent, and she and her sister were injured.
Bye was trapped under the tree and suffered extensive injuries, including a broken back, collapsed lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding. She was declining rapidly so STARS was called in and took her to Edmonton. She was diagnosed a paraplegic.
“I’m very luck that STARS was able to come.” Her sister was also injured, not as seriously, and taken by ground ambulance to Red Deer.
It’s given her a second chance, she said, and without a doubt, STARS saved her life. Bye is now attending her first year at Mount Royal University in Calgary, studying communications.
On Thursday, she was happy to attend the grand opening of the STARS home in Red Deer — the kickoff of the 2017 STARS lottery — and tell her story.
Wendy Beauchesne, vice president of Corporate Services for STARS, said last year they flew 80 missions to Red Deer, the most frequent in Alberta.
“That’s 80 people on the worst day of their life,” Beauchesne said. Patients are critically ill or injured.
Red Deer is Alberta’s third largest city, which is probably why it had the most flights, she said. STARS does not fly often within Calgary or Edmonton city limits because ground ambulance can usually get there just a quick as a helicopter.
As well, a lot of people come to Red Deer Regional Hospital from surrounding communities and then are flown to Calgary or Edmonton, she said. STARS also flies frequently into other Central Alberta points. Last year there were 37 flights to Rocky Mountain House, 29 to Sundre and 25 to Olds.
The STARS lottery nets $11 million each year to keep the big red helicopters flying and saving lives.
There are four grand prize homes in this year’s lottery — in Red Deer (Mason Martin Homes), Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge.
The total number of prizes is 3,145, valued at $4.9 million, including 24 vacations and six vehicles. There’s also the 50/50 draw where someone could win as much as $1.55 million.
Tickets are on sale at the Red Deer STARS home, located at 22 Lindman Ave. They are $25 each, three for $60, six for $100 or18 for $250. They can be ordered by phone (1-888-880-0992), or online and by mail.
For more information, go to starslotteryalberta.ca