STARS' new AW139 is home
The wait is over.
The much-anticipated addition of the new AW139 was made official Friday when the helicopter was unveiled in the hanger at the STARS base in Edmonton. The roughly 200 guests, including donors, crew and staff, were thrilled to see the gleaming red air ambulance in person.
Its purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of 500 donors who raised the $26.5 million needed to buy two of the AW139s for STARS.
"When you look up into the sky and see that big red helicopter, know that you put it there," Fran Olson, chairwoman of the Edmonton campaign cabinet, vision critical campaign told donors. "That's your helicopter, your baby, you put it there."
Andrea Robertson, STARS president and CEO, said despite some delays, the organization never lost sight of the goal. “The journey here has not been a straight line," said Robertson. "There were many delays along the way – the last of which was caused by Hurricane Sandy. Through it all, we never lost our determination and drive to bring this state-of-the art helicopter home to Alberta. The chance to save more lives was all the inspiration we needed to help keep moving forward."
Robertson also thanked the donors. "The real heroes today are the many donors to the STARS Foundation who made this accomplishment possible. Without them, the AW139 would still be on our wish list. Today, it’s in our hangar."
The AW139 medically equipped helicopters will enhance access to emergency pre-hospital critical care through more rapid response, an expanded service area, a larger medical interior, more powerful lift capacity, and a de-icing system that will enable flight during adverse weather conditions. The new helicopters are also well suited for search and rescue operations, which currently make up about three per cent of all missions in Alberta.
The helicopter is the first of two new AW139 helicopters purchased by STARS for service in Alberta, with the second Calgary dedicated AW139 arriving in 2013.
Minister of Health Fred Horne called the AW139 the future of health care in Alberta and emphasized the direct impact STARS has on patient care. "This new helicopter will ensure that patients, even those far away from a critical care centre, will still receive the intensive medical care they need," said Horne. "The Alberta government recognizes STARS as an important part of our health care delivery system, one that is responsive and provides excellent patient care regardless of location."
STARS is a non-profit helicopter air ambulance organization that provides rapid and specialized emergency care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. Our doctors, nurses, paramedics, and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to save lives. STARS operates from bases in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.