Last year’s Humboldt Broncos bus crash that claimed 16 young lives is still fresh in the minds of Canadians. It had also brought forth the need for air ambulance services. The STARS air ambulance had, in fact, played a crucial role in saving the lives of many among the 13 who were injured in the accident. Now, the medical flight organization is looking to replace its existing fleet of choppers in Saskatchewan. The good news is that they are two-thirds of their way in collecting funds for doing so. The community, including some business groups, has come together to make this possible.
The Need to Change the Air Ambulance Fleet
The president of STARS air ambulance termed the current fleet of choppers ‘reliable work horses’ but added that they have reached the ‘end of their lifespan’. She highlighted the fact that the manufacturers have stopped making them any longer and that the parts are now more expensive than ever, shooting up the maintenance costs very high. In a scenario where they have to keep these birds ready 24/7, this is not a very tenable situation. The first announcement for help came from the government and this was followed by Nutrien.
The Funding for the New Air Ambulance Fleet
Greg Ottenbreit who is the minister of rural and remote health offered to renew the province’s agreement with the air ambulance company for another 10 years. He also announced funding for one helicopter out of the three which are slated to be replaced.
Nutrien, once again, reiterated its commitment purchase a chopper, which is due to arrive in the year 2019. It’s going to be an Airbus H145.
Each of the helicopters is about $13 million. The organization is running a fund-raising campaign to finance the third chopper. The three air ambulance vehicles that are being retired are BK117s.