Night missions begin from Saskatoon base
Today, STARS began 24-hour-a-day operations from our 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. Now, crews are working around the clock.
“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 we began using in 2003. The goggles significantly increase our 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 24-hour operations, 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.