STARS air ambulance marks 10 years of life-saving missions in Saskatchewan

This weekend marks a major milestone for the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) in Saskatchewan.

STARS air ambulance launched its first Saskatchewan base in Regina on April 30, 2012.

One day after the base launched, the crew responded to its first call and transported a critically ill patient from Arcola to Regina.

The Regina base has helped care for more than 4,200 critically ill and injured patients across the province since then.

Carrie Derin was one of the first STARS patients in Saskatchewan. She was airlifted to Regina after a quadding incident in Kenosee in August 2012.

“Ten years later, I’ve been able to celebrate so many things—my kids growing up and becoming successful, and my fiftieth birthday,” Derin said.

On the way to Regina, the crew had to land in Arcola to get blood for Derin.

As a result, all six STARS bases in Western Canada now carry at least two units of O-negative blood on their flights. Regina was the first air ambulance crew in North America to implement that.

“I just thought we’re taking time away from that patient, we have to get them to the operating room or tertiary care. Can we do better?” said Darcy McKay, STARS provincial director for Saskatchewan.

In the last decade, STARS have seen a number of advancements in technology, treatment and aircraft.

“It’s a flying ICU. We have ventilators, monitors, and ultrasound,” said Darren Entner, STARS clinical operations manager in Regina.

“We can give those patients the best chance on their worst day.”

The province’s second STARS base is located in Saskatoon. That base will celebrate its tenth anniversary in the fall.

STARS also operates in Alberta and Manitoba.

The provincial government renewed Saskatchewan’s STARS agreement for another 10 years in January 2021.

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