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STARS demand increases, funding drops

Masha Scheele

The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) foundation carried out seven inter-facility and scene missions within and near the Town of Hinton in 2019.

The year prior, they carried out 13 missions, while in 2017 they carried out 20 in the same area.

An additional 13 missions were carried out within the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County last year.

The air ambulance organization thanked the Town of Hinton for their ongoing support and for including STARS in their annual budget as an emergency protective services asset.

The Town of Hinton contributed $19,764 in 2019 to support flight operations last year.

While the demand for STARS is steady, the financial difficulty of municipalities due to the pandemic is also weighing on the organizations.

STARS downsized several staff members across all six bases while the requests have increased.

The organization anticipates a reduction in donations while they are also unable to host fundraising events like golf tournaments, galas, and rural community events.

STARS has experienced a substantial increase in the volume of incoming calls to the Emergency Link Centre in Calgary since the COVID-19 crisis erupted. 

Across all six bases in Western Canada, STARS saw as high as 650 incoming calls within one week.

They did not fly on all requests but STARS air medical crews responded to numerous COVID related cases, as well as other daily demands of medical distress.

Summer comes with an increase in motor vehicle collisions and all-terrain vehicle types of accidents, STARS is also experiencing an increase in calls related to pregnancy complications and distress such as gunshot wounds, and overdose circumstances, stated a letter from STARS addressed to the Town of Hinton.

STARS flies an average of eight missions daily for the communities and rural residents they serve. 

Hinton receives support from all three Alberta bases, which include Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Calgary.

Those bases combined flew 1,434 missions in 2019 and trained 1,106 medical personnel across the province.

The STARS Emergency Link Centre responded to an average of 63 emergency requests per day, totalling to 22,697.

Those calls include scene calls, inter-facility transfers, patients in rural hospitals, industry emergency requests, search and rescue missions, charter helicopter coordinator, and on-line medical control for ground EMS. For more information on STARS or to donate, go to