Quote is from Air Wolf – great tv series from the 80’s. If you haven’t seen it – you should.
STARS IS COMING TO SASKATCHEWAN
The Alberta-born organisation is expanding their horizons east-ward to Saskatchewan and Manitoba. You can read all about Saskatchewan STARS here. Dr Dennis Nesdoly from STARS [Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society] a former colleague of mine came to give us a talk today.
A bit of transport History
Interestingly enough – Saskatchewan Air Ambulance began in 1946 – which is the longest serving non-military air transport service in the world! Right now they have 3 King Air B200 aircraft that are available 24/7. They are crewed by specially trained nurses and paramedics who have an average 10 years of experience. Adding HEMS [helicopter emergency medical service] will enhance the already excellent air transport.
Most of STARS’ journey has been ~ 5000 feet at 240 kph, but many sentinel events occurred in the classroom, politician’s board rooms and at public events.
- Started in 1985 in Calgary and 1991 in Edmonton.
- Sim program started in 1999
- STARS has five helicopters:
- STAR-1 operates from the Calgary Base
- STAR-3 operates from the Edmonton Base
- STAR-2 serves as a back-up aircraft for both bases
- STAR-4 is a support aircraft, providing parts for the fleet
- 2008 STARS Critical Care and Transport Academy was inaugurated.
- 2010 became official “Red” patient transfer service by Alberta Government with fixed funding for the next 10 years
- The agreement with Saskatchewan was reached in April 2011 [but was in the works even before I came to Saskatchewan in 2009]
- AW139 bought by STARS in 2005 and is getting equipped. We’re going to get one – price tag roughly $30 million a piece. With a larger range and capacity [ 2 patients, bariatric patients] – these things are sexy!
The STARS Model:
It’s more than just a helicopter that transports sick people. STARS is a top-rate organisation. I was fortunate enough to have trained with them during my residency in Calgary.
Physician driven – Some of the smartest doctors I know have been instrumental in the evolution of STARS.
Inter-disciplinary – The RN’s and Medics that work there take walked away from their collective agreement to work there. They are a great group of professionals – so too are the pilots, the maintenance crew and the rest of the organisation. EVERYBODY attends “morning huddle” – it’s a lesson in how a team should function.
Innovation and Education – As far as I know, STARS was the first non-military operation to have pilots use night-vision goggles. Other innovations include in-flight blood analysis and ultrasound. The simulation program at STARS is similar to ours with one major difference – They created the first Mobile Simulation Program in North America. I think that this is perhaps what is going to make the biggest impact here. The ability to take simulation training out to rural settings is invaluable!
Blended model of funding – When it started it was with volunteer docs, pilots and medics. The public, private industry and later government are instrumental stakeholders that keep the birds flying.
Community Spirit – Few things have galvanised community spirit as well as these Red BK’s. The colour is a unique shade of red and garners as much brand awareness as Coca-Cola. This is important – as fund-raising is the biggest part of STARS. (I think that they’re going to have to make it green though)
The Eurocopter BK 117:
- Scene calls – go out to ‘farmer’s field’ where the truck rolled over.
- Inter-Facility Transfer – go get sick patient from a rural hospital.
- Literature suggests that 3-8 lives saved /100 calls. Generally HEMS patients are critically ill.
- the best HEMS transport service are ones that are integrated into hospital EMS
- Missions should be dispatched within medical guidelines established by regional EMS
NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS A CHOPPER:
– Distance too great for ground ambulance
– Time critical Patient condition
– Patient requires critical care support
– Inaccessible location
– Use of ground would compromise ground coverage [i.e. take an ambulance away from it’s community]
- crew training
- daily craft inspections
- properly stowed equipment and secured patient
- limits on work hours
- Recruiting a Base Medical Director for Saskatoon
- Patient referral system
- Helipad infrastructure
- Receiving sites
- Top 10 Referral facilities
- EMS integration / outreach
Building the operation in Saskatchewan:
- Regina base – spring 2012 (Regina International Airport)
- Saskatoon base – late 2012 (Saskatoon International Airport)
- Recruiting Saskatchewan team:
- Air Medical Crew (paramedics and registered nurses)
- Aircraft engineers
- Integrating with local first responders and health care providers