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STARS News Release

STARS launches operations in Saskatoon

October 15, 2012

Saskatoon, Sask. Oct.15, 2012 – As of noon today, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) began providing helicopter air ambulance services for critically ill and injured patients from its second base in Saskatchewan. Following a brief ceremony involving dignitaries and former patients, the Saskatoon base was put into service, providing greater access to rapid emergency medical care and transportation.

"In an emergency, minutes can mean the difference between life and death," Minister Responsible for Rural and Remote Health Randy Weekes said. "Our government is committed to providing timely access to emergency medical services for all residents, particularly in rural and remote areas where highly-specialized medical help may not be close at hand."

STARS signed a service agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan in April 2011 to provide helicopter air ambulance services from bases in Regina and Saskatoon. The Regina base opened on April 30, 2012 and has since completed more than 80 missions ranging from emergency scene calls to inter-hospital transfers.

Andrea Robertson, STARS president and CEO, said the opening of a second base in Saskatchewan offers hope to thousands of people across the province. “Together with our partners in emergency services and health care, we will enhance the chain of survival for critically ill and injured patients,” said Robertson. “We couldn’t have made this day a reality without support of the Government of Saskatchewan, corporate supporters and the community.”

As is customary, STARS is beginning operations at the Saskatoon base during daylight hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will proceed toward 24-hour service in the coming months. STARS phases in base openings to increase comfort level with providing service in an air medical environment when the majority of clinical and aviation staff are new. This provides for the safest environment for patients and the STARS team.

An area just south of College Drive along McOrmand Drive will serve as a temporary landing site until completion of the new children’s hospital where a permanent rooftop heliport is planned. During the day, STARS will land with patients at this private property and will be met by ground EMS to transport patients to hospital. STARS’ critical care medical crew will remain with patients until care is transferred at the hospital.

The base in Saskatoon is opening in a temporary location at 16 Wayne Hicks Lane at the John G. Diefenbaker International Airport until a permanent hangar at the airport is ready in late 2013. The Saskatoon base will launch with a BK117 helicopter. Eventually, STARS’ new AW139 helicopter, which flies further and faster and in more adverse weather conditions, will be added to the fleet. PotashCorp is funding the purchase of the second helicopter and building the permanent hangar. The estimated value is $27 million.

“As the province’s largest financial supporter of STARS, we’re delighted the program is taking flight in Saskatchewan,” said Bill Doyle, President and CEO of PotashCorp. “Today marks an important milestone for STARS and PotashCorp as we celebrate the opening of the STARS base in Saskatoon.

Several other major donors have provided contributions to the STARS Saskatchewan program including Crescent Point Energy, Mosaic, Enbridge, Enerplus, Husky Energy, Legacy Oil, and Rawlco Radio.

STARS is a charitable, non-profit organization which provides rapid and specialized emergency medical care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. STARS has flown more than 23,000 missions since 1985, and operates from six bases in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, including Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

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For more information

Kelly Brossart
STARS Communications
Media Line: 306-565-8000