Construction begins on new STARS base
December 14, 2011 By The Regina Leader-Post
Dec. 14, 2011, Regina, Sask. - Regina is one step closer to having helicopter air ambulance service. The base for the STARS air ambulance service located at the Regina International Airport was unveiled on Tuesday.
An existing hangar, purchased in October from Redhead Equipment Ltd, will be converted to a space for two helicopters, aircraft engineering equipment and maintenance activity, medical and aviation crew training and staging areas.
It's expected the air ambulance service will be available by spring.
|STARS foundation vice-president Rod Gantefoer talks to the media at the hangar that will become the new STARS helicopter base at the Regina Airport.|
Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post, Leader-Post
"Ultimately, we would want to be landing at the General Hospital in Regina but in the interim we will land here and actually ground transport people over to the hospital," said Rod Gantefoer, STARS Foundation vice-president.
Regina's helicopter base is the first phase of the plan. It will provide service for a radius around Regina and into the southern part of the province.
Next fall, a second base in Saskatoon will be created which will service the centre part of the province and to the north up to La Ronge. The third step is to get a new generation aircraft in Saskatoon.
"So the entire population of the province, except those north of La Ronge, will be serviced out of one of two centres by the time we're operational with Saskatoon in the fall," said Gantefoer.
According to the province, STARS will not be involved in billing patients directly. The current billing processes the province uses for ground and air ambulance services will also be used for medical helicopter services. The basic fee for air ambulance service would be $350 and ground ambulance service is between $250-$325 each way either sending or receiving.
Ambulance service is not an insured service in the province. However, the province subsidizes the cost of the service through global funding to health regions and funding to Saskatchewan Air Ambulance.
"The whole province needs to have something like this," said Gantefoer. "It provides a great niche of protection against something very serious happening to an individual be it a heart attack, stroke or traffic accident … The ability for the helicopter to land right at the scene on a highway or in a field at the site of a farm accident is something that is really important to the people of the province."
Raegan Gardiner, a registered nurse and the newest STARS employee as a clinic educator, couldn't be happier at the progress being made.
She also believes in the importance of being able to provide such medical service to people of the province.
Gardiner spent a few years nursing in Edmonton and witnessed first-hand what STARS did for the community and knew Saskatchewan could benefit from such services.
"Providing professional medical care and being able to provide that in a timely manner, time is so important when you are dealing with trauma and critical care patients," said Gardiner. "If we can offer this quickly and keep resources in the community and keep resources where they belong, we're going to be able to improve health care for the residents of Saskatchewan."