The Peace Country has a range of geography and long distances between hospitals which is why the STARS Air Ambulance base came to Grande Prairie 10 years ago.
CEO and President Andrea Robertson says it originally was started in Calgary by Doctor Gregory Powell who realized a need for rural service which expanded around the province.
“If you want to talk rural, what about northern Alberta. Grande Prairie really came together and said they want this here. They said we could really reach a lot of communities here.”
The community raised almost $800,000 to open up the first STARS helipad at the QE II Hospital which opened in December 2007.
She adds when Calgary and Edmonton added STARS they did 50 to 60 missions in the first year. In the Grande Prairie area, they did over 150 in the first year.
In 2015-2016, in Alberta there were just over 1700 flights.
One of the first patients ten years ago was Luke Eggleston was involved in a head on collision on December 16th, 2006. He recalls the impact that STARS had on his life and continues to have on the community.
“STARS has an impact on everybody’s lives here and not just the patients. Without STARS, a lot of people would be going without medical treatment that is needed and they would be lost. Not just for the patients, for the friends and families it means so much.”
He says when he hears the words STARS it implies hope.
His mother Cindy Eggleston was an EMT First Responder at the time that her son was involved in the collision and she is thankful STARS was a part of the rescue. She says this service brings hope to community as a whole and that it is detrimental to lives in the Peace country.