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STARS News Release

STARS begins night missions from Saskatoon base

February 25, 2013

Saskatoon, Sask, February 25, 2013 – Today, STARS Air Ambulance begins 24-hour-a-day operations at its Saskatoon base. Since launching service in mid-October, the Saskatoon base has been providing service 12-hours per day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

“Safety is always our priority,” says Ron Dufresne, vice-president of Saskatchewan operations. “Now that the majority of clinical and aviation staff have had time to become comfortable with the terrain and providing service in an air medical environment, the time is right to expand those hours of operations.”

All STARS pilots are trained and certified in the use of night vision goggles, a technology that STARS began using in 2003. The goggles significantly increase the ability to locate and reach patients at night. STARS is the only civilian helicopter air ambulance service in Canada to have a night vision goggle program.

To support the 24-hour operation, five additional pilots were recruited and trained, along with seven additional flight paramedics and flight nurses. The flight crew on every mission includes two pilots, as well as an advance-care paramedic and registered nurse – both with critical-care training. An emergency physician trained in pre-hospital care and transportation is also available for every emergency response and travels in the helicopter whenever medically necessary.

The STARS temporary hangar located at the Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport, has been equipped with crew quarters which provide washing, kitchen and sleeping facilities for the flight crew. A permanent hangar is expected to be ready later this year. Since launching service, STARS has flown more than 275 missions from its two Saskatchewan bases. The Regina base opened for service April 30, 2012 while the Saskatoon base launched six months later on October 15.

“We’re excited about the prospect of reaching out to help more Saskatchewan people,” adds Dufresne.


STARS is a charitable, non-profit helicopter air ambulance organization that provides rapid and 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 operates from bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grand Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

Media Availability

Vice President of STARS Saskatchewan Operations, Ron Dufresne will be available at 11:30 am today, Monday, February 25, 2013 at the STARS Hangar, 16 Wayne Hicks Lane, John G. Diefenbaker International Airport to discuss the first few months of STARS operations in Saskatoon and the transition to 24/7 service. Additionally, Pilot Graham MacKay will be on hand to demonstrate the night vision goggles should reporters have questions regarding this technology.

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For more information:
Kelly Brossart
STARS Communications
Media Line: 306.565-8000