STARS is dedicated to providing a safe, rapid, highly specialized emergency medical transport system for the critically ill and injured.

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VIP Stories

Denise Seeley - Brule, AB
Denise Seeley had been feeling run down for a few months before she developed strep throat. She thought the virus would simply run...

Relationships, people, and the commitment to respond to the needs of the critically ill and injured are the foundation of STARS’ journey from a dream and vision to reality. Almost 30 years of history is captured in the stories of the people, places and teamwork that have contributed to tens of thousands of missions flown.

We are excited to share with you some highlights from our past as we unfold our plans for the future. The next chapters in our history will include the same compelling dedication of our staff, volunteers, community partners and our supporters.

The rotary air ambulance program, initially named Lions Air Ambulance Service, is established, and the first mission is flown in December to transport a critically ill infant to tertiary care in Calgary.

STARS receives formal recognition as an essential service when the organization is integrated into emergency planning for the Calgary Olympic Winter Games.

STARS’ Edmonton base is established and carries out its first mission in October. Also, STARS is awarded rotary and fixed-wing air medical ambulance contracts for both Edmonton and Calgary bases by the provincial government.

STARBEAR, the official mascot of STARS, is born.

The STARS Emergency Link Centre is established with funding received from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

STARS also purchases the Calgary and Edmonton helicopters through financing.

The STARS Seconds Count Capital Campaign launches to buy two STARS helicopters and establish the STARS Legacy Fund.

STARS receives full accreditation as an international critical-care provider from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).

The Human Patient Simulator program is established in Alberta through the support of founding donors: Lions International Multiple District 37 and Lockerbie & Hole.

The Chain of Survival Fund is established to provide community emergency service providers with financial assistance for medical equipment and training needs.

The International Association of Air Medical Services names STARS the recipient of its prestigious Program of the Year award. STARS is the first international and first Canadian program to receive this honour. Also, a fourth helicopter is purchased.

STARS is requested to be the air medical provider for the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta. To ensure mission availability, STARS’ fourth helicopter is upgraded to flying status.

STARS surpasses the 10,000-mission milestone.

A mission to carry a patient from southeastern Alberta to Calgary marks STARS’ first mission utilizing night vision goggle (NVG) technology. It is also the first civilian air carrier use of NVG technology in Canada.

For the first time, STARS simultaneously mobilizes three helicopters to respond to a mission in central Alberta.

The Vision Critical Campaign is launched to raise funds for the purchase of two new technology helicopters and to establish the STARS Centre for Education and Research – efforts leading toward enhanced patient care.

A third base opens in Grande Prairie on November 1. Within one year, crews from this base fly over 116 missions in Peace Country including 42 inter-facility transfers of critically ill patients, 71 scene calls related to trauma for industry patients, accidents and motor vehicle collisions and participate in three search and rescue efforts.

Dr. Gregory Powell, founder and STARS Chief Executive Officer, is made an officer in the Order of Canada.

STARS sees the first class graduate from the STARS Critical Care and Transport Medicine Academy.

STARS celebrates its 25th anniversary.

STARS is awarded the Andy Mynarski VC Memorial Award for contributions to the search-and-rescue field.

The province of Saskatchewan signs an agreement with STARS to establish helicopter air medical service in that province. Andrea Robertson assumes the role of STARS President & CEO.

CEO Rescue in the Rockies for STARS raised the single largest dollar amount ever in one day for STARS with a record-breaking $1.3 million.

This was one of the most significant and notable years in the history of our organization. STARS signs a 10-year service agreement with the Government of Manitoba to provide helicopter air ambulance from a permanent base in Winnipeg. STARS also opens bases in Regina and Saskatoon.

STARS unveiled two new donor-funded AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters in 2013. The new aircraft enhance access to emergency care through more rapid response times, an expanded service area, a larger medical interior and a de-icing system. The two aircraft arrived in Edmonton and Calgary in Dec. 2012 and Oct. 2013, respectively. After training and certification, the first patient to be transported by a STARS AW139 was flown in Sept. 2013.