South Peace News
STARS air ambulance service continues to soar in the High Prairie and Big Lakes County region.
The region recorded the highest number of missions in 2021 for the Grande Prairie base, says Glenda Farnden, senior municipal relations liaison for STARS [Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service].
“The High Prairie region remains the top community for STARS as it has for many years,” says Farnden, who updated Big Lakes County at its regular meeting Jan. 12.
Communities and hospitals in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia are served by the Grande Prairie base.
A total of 38 missions were completed in 2021 in High Prairie and Big Lakes, up from 30 in 2020 and the highest in the past five years.
Since BLC became a partner in the air ambulance service in 2008, STARS recorded high counts of 74 calls in 2014, 53 in 2011 and 48 in 2016.
Leading the calls in 2021, STARS recorded 16 missions at the High Prairie Health Complex for critical inter-facility transfers, down from six in 2020.
Before, STARS responded to 15 missions for hospital transfers in 2019, 10 in 2018 and 12 in 2017.
Calls for responses to scenes and transfers for STARS are on the rise in the past year.
“We continue to see an increase in stress-related types missions,” Farnden says.
About one in five missions is related to COVID-19. STARS also handles calls for heart attacks, stroke and drug overdoses.
Helicopters also respond to non-medical missions.
“STARS is a key resource for RCMP in search-and-rescue circumstances,” Farden says.
She thanks Big Lakes for its continued support.
Last year, council passed a motion to contribute $25,000 in annual funding for four years from 2022-2025.
Farnden says it raises the total to $449,000 that Big Lakes has contributed to STARS.
On that note, she requested council add another $51,000 to make it eligible to have Big Lakes’ logo on STARS helicopters as a major partner.
Council did not discuss the request at the meeting.
STARS Lottery and STARS calendars are other major fundraising campaigns for the service. Calendar sales last year were slow during the COVID-19 pandemic, Farnden says.
Many partner municipalities sell the calendars at their offices starting in July each year.
“However, most municipal offices were closed during that time,” Farnden says.
She trusts the situation will improve in 2022 to make calendar sales more accessible to residents.