When emergency strikes, every second counts.
STARS Air Ambulance has helped ensure people receive medical attention in remote areas to save their lives within Saskatchewan.
The emergency rescue service celebrated its fifth anniversary of being in the province Monday.
In 2012, Carrie Derin became the first STARS patient in Saskatchewan while on a family trip to Moose Mountain Provincial Park.
“Nobody thinks anything bad’s going to happen,” she said. “From heart attacks in rural Saskatchewan to major car accidents, you have a couple extra seconds here or there makes a big difference in your outcome.”
The Regina resident was riding on an ATV when she didn’t notice a log in the road. The debris impaled her abdomen and Derin’s husband was left to find help quickly. When EMS was brought to the scene, STARS was dispatched.
Derin was given a blood transfusion in the helicopter while being flown to hospital. She said only one thought was going through her mind during the airlift.
“My kids. What’s life going to be like for them if I don’t get there?” she said.
Raegan Gardner, a flight nurse with STARS, was one of the first responders to Derin’s emergency.
“When we first encountered Carrie in the back of the ambulance, it was really apparent that she was critically ill so we knew that time was going to be really important,” Gardner said.
Derin made it to the hospital and recovered. Ever since the incident, Derin and Gardner have remained close.
“I consider Carrie almost a part of the family now and I think she feels the same way,” the nurse said.
STARS also made a difference for Garfield Beaudry.
Beaudry was cutting wood on his farm south of Raymore, a community located 112 kilometres north of Regina, in 2012.
The farmer was set to go for lunch with a neighbour, but when his friend arrived, Beaudry passed out.
“I was down to 20 beats a minute,” he said.
He awoke in the hospital, where doctors put in a heart pacer. He said having STARS respond was the difference between life and death.
Province commits to funding
During the fifth anniversary celebration for STARS, the province announced the program will receive $20.5 million in funding from the government.
The Ministry of Health will provide $10.5 million for the 2017-18 year.
The funding agreement between STARS and Crown Corporations within the province was also renewed for five years.
The rescue service will receive $10 million – or $2 million from each Crown – over the course of the agreement.