Most farmers and ranchers know the dangers in running their operations and many have had their lives saved by the efforts of Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) air-ambulance helicopters. The STARS air ambulance is mainly funded by donations from individuals, organizations and companies from across Alberta. The Feeder Associations of Alberta (FAA) is one of those funding groups and has had its large donation recognized by the inclusion of their logo on all five of the air-ambulance helicopters.
Over a 13-year period, the FAA raised over $250,000 for STARS. Representatives from the Association and deputy agriculture minister John Knapp attended the unveiling of the logo during a recent ceremony held at the STARS office.
“We’re proud to be with all the big names on here. It’s quite an emotional moment,” said Jim Bowhay, FAA chairman.
Linda Powell, vice-president of governance and external affairs with STARS, said that the organization’s rural roots have been a real strength in its development. STARS has touched the lives of many rural people as it provides enhanced access to medical care for the critically ill and injured. Farmers who have suffered accidents or strokes in their own yard have been rushed to medical assistance in larger cities by the STARS crews, which always include two pilots, a flight nurse, paramedic and occasionally a physician. The flight crew collaborates closely with the ground ambulance services throughout the province to help ensure the highest survival rate possible.
The FAA raised the funds by holding auctions at their general meeting held each January in Red Deer. Items donated by trade-show vendors are auctioned off at the convention, which attracts about 500 people every year. Each auction has raised an average of $20,000, all of which has been donated to STARS.
“STARS is one of the biggest organizations in the province when it comes to helping rural people in accidents,” said Bowhay. “It was an easy choice.” Donations by groups like the FAA enable STARS to purchase new equipment including night vision goggles which help the pilots fly through the mountains.
STARS is a non-profit charity sponsored by Alberta Health Services. The combined model is a great one that allows the organization the ability and flexibility to innovate, said Dr. Greg Powell, one of the three founders of STARS and a former emergency room physician. STARS originated in Calgary in 1985 and has since served over 19,000 patients across the province in its 25 years of existence.