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STARS News Release

STARS enhances its service with addition of new helicopter

July 22, 2014

Saskatoon, SK, July 22, 2014 – STARS officially introduced its new AW139 helicopter today during an unveiling ceremony at the STARS base in Saskatoon.

The Saskatoon-based AW139 helicopter is the first of its kind for STARS in Saskatchewan. Two AW139 aircrafts are in operation at the STARS bases in Calgary and Edmonton. The new helicopter will enhance access to emergency pre-hospital critical care through more rapid flying times, an expanded service area, a larger medical interior and powerful lift capacity.

The AW139 cost approximately $16 million, including $14 million for the helicopter and $2 million for the medical interiors.

“A significant capital investment was necessary to bring helicopter air ambulance service to Saskatchewan communities,” said STARS President and CEO Andrea Robertson. “PotashCorp has helped us realize our vision of bringing this new helicopter and hangar, valued at $27 million, to the people of this province.”

“PotashCorp’s commitment is the largest in STARS’ history and words cannot say how grateful we are,” added Robertson.

“It’s a pleasure to see this impressive hangar and this state-of-the-art helicopter together and ready to be put into service to save those few minutes that can make all the difference in emergency critical care,” said PotashCorp’s President and CEO Jochen Tilk. “It is this kind of partnership that exemplifies our company’s commitment to the communities where we operate.”

“I want to acknowledge the tremendous support PotashCorp has shown for improved health care in this province,” Central Services Minister Jennifer Campeau said, on behalf of Health Minister Dustin Duncan. “This new helicopter and hangar will help serve Saskatchewan patients better.”

The formal presentation included a technical overview of the helicopter and presentations by STARS’ president and CEO Andrea Robertson, Jochen Tilk, President and CEO of PotashCorp and STARS’ Very Important Patient Tanice Mackie. The introduction event was well attended by representatives from emergency medical services, fire and police, all who will be working directly with the new helicopter.

STARS is a non-profit that provides specialized emergency medical care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. Our physicians, nurses, paramedics and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to save lives. STARS has bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.


For more information (and see backgrounder below):
Bonnie Monteith, Communication Lead, STARS
Media: (306) 565-8000


• The AW139 helicopter is larger than STARS’ existing BK117 helicopters, weighing 6,800 kg and measuring 16.67 metres from front to back. The BK117s measure 13 metres front to back.
• Normal cruise speed of the AW139 is 150 knots (278 km/h). The helicopter can fly up to 300 km/h depending on wind and weight of the helicopter. The helicopter and crew are of most benefit to patients within a one-hour flight range (commonly referred to as the “golden hour”).
• The AW139s were manufactured in Philadelphia, PA by Agusta Westland
• The BK117 helicopters fly at a speed of approximately 120 knots (225 km/h) from bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg.
• The current fleet of STARS helicopters consists of eight BK117 aircraft and three AW139s, operating out of six bases across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
• STARS is currently conducting intensive training with flight and medical crews, as well as training with other rural emergency services, in key communities served by the Saskatoon base before the new helicopter goes into service.
• STARS flight crews consist of a pilot, a co-pilot, a nurse experienced in emergency/ICU care, and an advanced life support paramedic. A STARS emergency transport physician is also available by telephone for every response, and is airborne in the helicopter when medically necessary.