Most Western Canadians are aware of STARS air ambulance, whether you’ve been to a fundraiser, heard the helicopter overhead, or have had you or a loved one be picked up by the air ambulance in the face of tragedy.
As many of us in the agricultural sector reside in rural areas, we know it can be difficult to get to a major hospital when a catastrophe happens, which is where a service like STARS shines. With the current healthcare system, Canadians are fortunate enough to not have to worry about the same size bill that citizens of the United States do when an emergency occurs.
Earlier in July, an article was published by the Washington Post in regards to the rising costs of air ambulance services in the United States. The average cost of an emergency ride in a helicopter is between US$30,000-$40,000 — a large sum of money most don’t have on hand in the event of an emergency.
Naturally, ever-curious RealAgriculture founder Shaun Haney wanted to dig further into the issue, and spoke to STARS chief medical officer and chief aviation officer, Dr. J.N. Armstrong, about how STARS operates in rural Canada.
“It’s a non-profit charity that was created back in about 1985. It was just in response to perceiving a real need to support patients in rural Alberta,” Armstrong explains. “Our founder Dr. Greg Powell realized that being in a rural setting was a bit of a disadvantage in terms of quick access to specialized medical care. So he decided to start up the helicopter program.”
From the huge region STARS covers, to the process of involving STARS in transport or rescues, and on to how physicians play a key role in the STARS day-to-day opereations, listen below to Armstrong and Haney as the pair discuss the STARS model and its importance to rural Canada: