Contrary to concerns expressed in recent letters to the editor, the STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) air ambulances do indeed provide service to the Creston Valley.
“Although STARS is not based in British Columbia, the proximity of our Grande Prairie and Calgary bases puts our crews in a position to respond to many communities in eastern British Columbia,” said Cameron Heke, manager of media and public relations/communications. “In 2011 STARS responded to Creston twice, and have flown there another six times over the years. …
“It is certainly correct that the BK117 cannot fly unrefueled to Creston; however, STARS can respond to Cranbrook and back to Calgary without refueling. Often, patients from surrounding communities are taken to Cranbrook and then airlifted to a hospital with a higher level of care.”
When STARS is asked to fly outside the unrefueled range, it will refuel at the local airport or any location with a fuel cache, and works closely with a number of operators in the area to ensure that fuel is available for the helicopter 24/7. A new AW139 helicopter planned for in Calgary in 2013 will be able to better respond to southeastern B.C.
“It flies further and faster than our current fleet of BK117 helicopters and will be an even more viable option for your area,” said Heke.
He added that STARS also provides emergency physician referral for critical patients in southeastern B.C. Last year, members of the STARS outreach team met with staff at the Creston Valley Hospital in Creston to discuss this process.
STARS is just one part in the region’s overall chain of survival, Heke said, and works closely with other emergency services.
“When the need is there and we are in a position to assist, our team is happy to get involved in any way we can,” he said. “Ultimately, whether or not STARS is asked to become involved in a mission is a medical decision made between the doctors at the hospital and our on-call referral emergency physicians.”