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Full-time air ambulance could be in Manitoba’s future

April 5, 2011  By CTV.ca

April 5, 2011, Winnipeg - Manitoba has a fast new tool to save lives during the expected spring flood. The STARS air ambulance helicopter is now ready to fly over Manitoba and respond to emergencies.

When a medical crisis strikes in a remote or flooded area, Manitoba can now have a rescue crew on scene within minutes.

The shock trauma air rescue society or STARS helicopter is an air ambulance on loan from Alberta. It's staffed with two pilots, a paramedic, nurse and, if needed, a Manitoba doctor. It will be available around the clock to respond to medical emergencies during a possible flood.

"We're very happy to have it," said Premier Greg Selinger, adding that the helicopter has been used successfully before.

In 2009 the STARS team was crucial in rescuing 8-year-old Samuel Gross when he nearly drowned in a culvert on the Westroc Hutterite Colony, 120 kilometers west of Winnipeg.


Pilot Gary Bergen was there and says without the chopper, the boy might not have survived.

"[It's] certainly one of the outcomes that thrills us and makes us proud to be a part of," he said.

The province is spending more than a million dollars to bring the chopper here for two months, but the premier wants a STARS program here permanently.

"Anybody working outside in the forestry sector, in the mining sector, in some of our northern communities, there are many situations where people come upon a medical crisis," Selinger said.

A full-time helicopter would also be welcomed by Manitoba paramedics, who for the first time will be able to ride along with the STARS crew this year.

"We have seen this be a matter of live and death in 2009," said Jodi Possia with the Paramedics Association of Manitoba. "This has saved Manitobans."

Two years ago, the STARS air ambulance responded to 24 emergencies in Manitoba and transported 17 passengers to hospital. The helicopter will be ready for duty on Saturday.


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