Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Town of Pincher Creek hears presentation from STARS rep Glenda Farnden

STARS AW139 lands at Pincher Creek Municipal Airport
T. Lucas file photo
Toni Lucas - Senior Municipal Relations Liaison for STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service) Glenda Farnden appeared as a delegation before Pincher Creek Town Council meeting on Monday, April 27.  "We will just start with a bit about who we are," she said. "Now, people think about the STARS and the red helicopter, and then they immediately think someone is very ill, or injured seriously." Although this may be what people think about she explained more to the council about STARS as a not for profit, how the service they offer impact lives, and how they obtain funding. She offered to the council a number of ways that the town of Pincher Creek can support STARS. According to Farnden, from 2010 until now the Town of Pincher Creek has accessed the STARS service 59 times and the MD of Pincher Creek has accessed the service 14 times for a total of 73 calls in this area during that time period.

Farnden said that since starting 30 years ago in 1985 STARS has offered an air emergency critical care and transportation system. They have flown more than 27,000 missions, and have 6 bases across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They currently have 8 BK-117 helicopters and 3 of the larger AW139 helicopters that can fly farther, faster, and can accommodate two critical care patients at one time. They are using state of the art technology to offer an airborne critical care unit for those that they transport.

Farnden talked about the education that STARS provides for their partners in landing zone training, the STARS academy certificate program with the University of Calgary, safety and outreach education, and how they provide 2 mobile education units in Alberta that helps with remote training. In addition they have dispatch, coordination, administrations and base operation maintenance.

She explained that STARS is 76% funded by fundraising, with the remaining 24% of their funding coming from government funds. A number of the challenges that they are facing is increased call volume, an aging and growing Alberta population, new systems and technology, and the need to maintain and update equipment in a responsible manner. "We really need to look at our future generations, and how we are going to maintain and sustain STARS services to Albertans for the next 30 years."

"There are studies that prove that early intervention impacts survival rates," she said, adding that that leads to shorter hospital stays, rehabilitation time, and affects recovery factors. "There is a significant cost savings to our overall health care system, as much as 1 million dollars per patient." she quoted from the journal of trauma medicine; "Patients transported by helicopter EMS can be more severely injured than those that are transported by ground, but they are also more likely to survive."

She requested that council consider STARS in their 2016 budget. She said that a commitment of $1 per capita would make a difference and be appreciated, and that there are some partnership municipal areas that have committed as much as $65 per capita. "Some of the smaller councils as well, rather than on a per capita amount, have found a set amount that fit well within your budget, and that is fine too. The bigger piece is that partnership part, and what we can achieve together."

Councillor Lorne Jackson said, "I can tell you from my experience that without the benefit of STARS, I would not be talking to you today. Again, I would like to thank STARS, and anyone that is associated with STARS from the bottom of my heart." She was thanked for her presentation and Mayor Don Anderberg said that council would discuss the information that she presented at a later meeting.

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