The STARS Air Ambulance has been flying its helicopter throughout the province, and the Yorkton Regional Health Center will be getting some upgrades to allow it to better accommodate the service. The Health Foundation has begun a campaign to raise money to install a heli-pad at the hospital.
The community has to pay $155,000 of the renovations, with the province providing 75 per cent of the total funds needed to build the pad. The heli-pad needs to be fenced, lighted, and have strobes which direct the helicopter at night. There also will be a runway from the pad to the hospital, and the hospital itself needs a doorway to the pad which provides direct access to emergency.
The STARS program itself involves a helicopter with a critical care nurse and advanced care paramedic. The helicopter also has advanced equipment on board, such as portable ultrasound machines, cardiac monitors and ventilators.
“It makes a lot of sense for us to participate in this program and bring it here. It does a couple of main things. It delivers people to care very fast, for some people it will get them to hospital in time to save their life,” explains Ross Fisher, executive director of The Health Foundation.
The region has approximately 6,000 ambulance calls annually, and while many don’t qualify for STARS, there are still many accidents, and heart attacks and strokes, as well as people needing help in more remote locations due to farming or hunting.
“When you look at the kind of ambulance calls we get within this region, we have a need for the STARS program. It will make a difference for some people in whether or not they live, but will also make a difference for some people in their recovery time,” Fisher says.
Putting a pad in place in Yorkton would make it easier for patients to get to a doctor in this area, he explains, and speed is the main goal of the program. Allowing patients to go to Yorkton would give more options for STARS and greater chances for students.
With plans in the works for new hospital in the near future, Fisher notes that any future designs will have a heli-pad integrated from the beginning of the design process.
He says that the hope is to have the money raised by the end of the year, and construction complete with the heli-pad operational by June 2013.