STARS offers time, hope and life-saving transport to critically ill and injured patients.

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Frequently asked questions


What is the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS)?

The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) is a non-profit physician-driven helicopter emergency medical service (EMS), that provides rapid and specialized medical care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients.  STARS has flown more than 27,000 missions since it began in 1985, and operates 24-hours a day from bases in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and Grande Prairie.

What are the benefits of a helicopter emergency medical service? 

Helicopter EMS benefits communities by quickly bringing specialized medical care directly to patients at the scene of an emergency, or at a rural hospital. Helicopters can land in areas inaccessible by ground ambulances, and avoid congested or weather affected roads. Helicopter EMS also supports rural areas by enabling paramedics and medical staff to remain in their community, instead of traveling with patients long distances to urban hospitals.

What is the reach of the STARS helicopter?

A STARS BK117 helicopter can fly approximately 500 kilometres before refueling (round trip), depending on factors such as landing locations and weather. STARS can also refuel at many designated fueling locations throughout the province when required to go beyond the typical flight range.

What types of emergencies does STARS respond to?

STARS transports critically ill and injured patients, either from rural health centres or directly from the scene of emergencies. Reponses to the scene of an emergency can involve landing on highways, remote areas, rural residences, and industry work sites.

Can weather conditions prevent STARS from responding to a medical emergency?

STARS is able to fly on most days across Canada’s Prairie region. However, there are times when weather can limit availability of the aircraft, including severe thunderstorms, dense fog, high winds, or icing conditions (when moisture in the air freezes on the body and rotor blades of a helicopter). Before any mission is accepted, STARS pilots review the weather in the areas of the planned flight path.

How many crew members fly in the helicopter?

STARS crews consist of two pilots, a nurse experienced in emergency/ICU care, and an advanced life support paramedic with critical care training. An emergency physician is also available for every emergency response, and accompanies the crew when medically necessary.

How is STARS funded?

STARS has a service agreement with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority that provides $10 million in annual funding, which is consistent with operating costs for  STARS other bases in Western Canada. STARS reimburses the WRHA when costs are under budget. Fund raising activities accounted for seven per cent of STARS funding in Manitoba during the 2013/14 fiscal year. 

Does STARS bill patients?

STARS is a non-profit organization and does not charge patients.



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