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PRRD provides new funding to STARS

Air ambulance service to receive $510K over three years from regional district
MVT stock STARS air ambulance
The Peace River Regional District is giving $170,000 per year over the next three years to the STARS air ambulance service. File photo.

The Peace River Regional District will continue its long-standing relationship with the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service, also known as STARS.

The foundation, which provides emergency air ambulance coverage to northern B.C., from its Grande Prairie base, will receive $170,000 in each of the next three years.

Although there have been presentations from other groups to provide similar service, directors at the Nov. 24 board meeting, generally, felt STARS has shown its value to region.

“TEAAMS did a very good presentation for us. They’re in competition obviously, with STARS, and I think there is room, maybe, in this region for one of these particular organizations to be viable,” said director and Hudson’s Hope mayor Dave Heiberg.

TEAAMS, or Technical Evacuation Advance Aero Medical Society, describes itself as an advanced life support helicopter emergency medical services non-profit.

“If we start to water it down, in a way that funding is not there to support one or the other, we may lose one or both. This year they [STARS] had 15 missions in our area and if you think the funding that we’re doing, $170,000 a year, I consider that money well-spent."

Area D rural director and PRRD board chair Leonard Hiebert has seen the group in action first-hand.

"In my previous work space, we used them frequently, very professional. They just upgraded their fleet which allows them to do even more than they did before. I believe these missions, as they call them, are crucial to the rural areas and there's times a lot of times where ground [emergency crews] can't get to where these accidents happen," Hiebert said.

“This program [STARS] has been in place for quite awhile. From what I know, it hasn’t had a hiccup or problem in any major way,” said area B director Jordan Kealy, who also supports the program.

“It’s offered invaluable services. They’re tried, tested, and proven. They’re in Northern B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan. I think we would be wasting taxpayers money if we were to look too much at other alternatives.”

Since 2009, the regional district has funded the STARS program for just over $2.1 million to help with the foundation’s operating costs.