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STARS News Release

Laser strikes at aircraft a growing concern for Saskatoon

July 30, 2015

Saskatoon, SK, July 30, 2015 – The Saskatoon Police Service, Air Support Unit (ASU) and STARS air ambulance are partnering to raise awareness about a growing safety concern in the sky.

Increasingly, aircraft personnel are being targeted, while in flight, by laser pointing. Lasers pose a serious risk to pilots, passengers, and aviation safety in general. The light from a laser can distract the pilot, create glare, and cause temporary blindness.

According to Transport Canada, there were 502 reported incidents nation-wide in 2014, a 43% increase since 2012. Fourteen of those incidents were in Saskatoon. So far in 2015 there have been six reported laser strikes in Saskatoon, many of those involving ASU and STARS air ambulance.

“Members of the public need to know that lasers are not toys. The hazards they can cause could put my life, and the lives of the tactical flight officer and those on the ground, in jeopardy,” says ASU Sgt.Wade Bourassa.

“Whether malicious or a juvenile prank, “lazing” can create unnecessary delays to patient care, it endangers the safety of the mission and occupies valuable policing resources,” said Gregory Chorney, one of two aviation base managers for STARS in Saskatchewan. “The safety of our patients is paramount. When minutes count and lives are on the line, that momentary lapse in judgment can have a devastating effect,”

Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal offence. If convicted an offender could face up to $100,000 in fines, five years in prison or both.

STARS air ambulance and the SPS work closely with Transport Canada in addressing this ongoing issue. Anyone who witnesses a laser being pointed at an aircraft or has information about someone engaged in doing so, is asked to report it immediately to police.

For more information contact:

Alyson Edwards
Saskatoon Police Service
(306) 975-8209

Bonnie Monteith
STARS air ambulance