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

Donate now

VIP Story

Brian Smith

Hometown: Drayton Valley, AB

Brian had always wanted to skydive. His family bought him a gift certificate for his 50th birthday and he was hooked. His 16-year-old son decided he would like to try as well, so as his son took the skydiving course, Brian took his second jump.

He jumped out of the plane at 4,500 feet and after the exhilarating ride, he failed to stall his parachute properly, resulting in him hitting the ground at 20 miles per hour.

Brian was still conscious as the Westlock Ambulance came to the scene, insisting that if they just stood him up, he would be fine.

Instead, the first responders called STARS. Brian didn’t know at the time that his T-12 vertebrae had broken off and stuck into his spinal cord.

“It was moving me by STARS that saved my life,” said Brian. “I would, without a doubt, not be walking today without STARS.”

Brian was in a drug-induced coma for 11 days to reduce the swelling to his spine and allow for surgery.
He spent two and a half months in the U of A Hospital and another three months in the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital learning to walk again before finally going home.

He still had a walker and wore a clamshell brace as he continued with physiotherapy for another six months.

Today he has limited feeling in his right leg, and none in his left leg, but he is grateful that he can walk.