Helicopters Magazine

Helipad open for speedy STARS service following upgrades last year

April 1, 2024  By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh

The new tank along with other upgrades at the maintenance compound helipad mean that STARS Air Ambulance can now serve Jasper National Park faster. (Photo: Luuk Wijk / Parks Canada / Jasper Fitzhugh)

In times of trouble, Jasperites might be seeing red helicopters fly in and fly back out fast.

The helipad at Parks Canada’s maintenance compound in Jasper National Park can now accommodate STARS Air Ambulance service.

As revealed during the recent Annual Public Forum, one of Parks Canada’s secrets from 2023 is that the redevelopment of the helicopter pad at the maintenance compound was completed. Part of that redevelopment involved the installation of a bulk fuel tank and a filling station along with the paving and lighting upgrades.

“The new tank represents a financial and environmental gain by reducing the waste and cost associated purchasing and transporting fuel in barrels,” said Neil McInnis, external relations manager with Jasper National Park.


STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service) is a Canadian non-profit helicopter air ambulance organization funded privately and by government contributions. It can reach critically ill and injured patients far away from hospitals, getting them the kind of rapid and specialized emergency care and transportation that Alberta Health Services’ ambulances cannot.

Based out of Calgary, it also offers Alberta operating bases in Edmonton and Grande Prairie, plus three in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Previously, when STARS was called out to a mission in the Jasper National Park area, operators would need to detour and refuel the aircraft at a local airport. The result of this would cost precious time to get patients in need of care to a receiving trauma centre, explained Jason Arthur, director of Flight Operations for STARS, in an email to the Fitzhugh.

“Having access to jet fuel in the area can save upwards of 40 minutes on each mission, which is hugely beneficial to our patients, and allows us to get them to get the critical care they need even faster,” Arthur said.

In addition to supporting access for STARS emergency services, the helipad can now also handle increased air traffic for firefighting response.

The work was done in collaboration with Alberta Health Services. The Fitzhugh reached out to Alberta Health Services for comment. None was received before press time.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2023


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