STARS hangar officially opens in Regina
Although its been operating for five months, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) celebrated the official opening of its office and hangar in Regina on Saturday.
A ceremony was held in the hangar, with the STARS 9 helicopter on display for guests to see. Speakers included STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson, Mosaic Senior Vice President Walt Precort and V.I.P (very important patient) Stu Wilson. V.I.P is the term STARS gives to patients who have been helped by the air ambulance. Although other V.I.P.'s were in attendance, Wilson shared his story with the audience.
He was driving on Highway 9 just east of Hanna, Alberta 15 years ago. He described driving along the winding highway and coming out of a curve to see another vehicle heading straight towards him in his lane. Although he thought he might be able to swerve around it, the two vehicles collided head on. The two people in the other vehicle died, and Wilson was badly hurt.
Hanna EMS took him to the hospital in the community. He laughed as he remembered telling the staff 'I think we should phone STARS.' The helicopter was called to take Wilson to a bigger hospital for treatment.
"When I got into the back end of the helicopter, I was very nervous and stressed out, I didn't know what the extent of my injuries were. When I got put in there, my nurse in particular - she's the only one you can see in the back of the helicopter - just looked down at me with the most beautiful smile. And I do call her my angel. She said, 'Stu, you're safe now.'"
Wilson would be restricted to a wheelchair for three months, and told he would always walk with a limp. Through determination and a lot of physiotherapy, Wilson now walks with a healthy gait - even running a marathon a few years ago. One and a half years ago, Wilson also got to meet his Pilot, Greg, and nurse, Caroline, to give them an emotional 'thank you.'
"STARS means so much to me. When you've been transported in the business end of that helicopter, and when it is crucial that I'm standing here today, there's a very, very strong attachment to that. The fact that I'm from Saskatchewan means a lot to be able to share that here, and get to see the people of Saskatchewan have this kind of care available to them now."
STARS V.I.P. Stu Wilson shared his rescue story at the Regina STARS hangar opening. Courtney Mintenko/CJME News.
Since STARS first launched in Saskatchewan at the end of April, it has flown on over 70 missions. In just a few weeks, STARS will launch from Saskatoon.
STARS has flown more than 22,000 missions across Alberta and eastern British Columbia since 1985 from bases in Alberta. STARS founder Dr. Gregory Powell was on hand for the latest hangar opening, and said he is thrilled to see the service expanding and helping in more areas.
"Our crews, and certainly in the days when I was flying in a helicopter, they see a lot of horrible things. And to see the patients come back to say thank you, that's the emotional energy that keeps us going and keeps us there to face another day."
Photos by CJME's Courtney Mintenko.