Grande Prairie is now the first Alberta city to have their logo proudly displayed on the entire fleet of STARS choppers.
In the seven years that the air ambulance has operated out of the city, Grande Prairie has contributed $500,000 of support to the organization.
Base Director Greg Schmidt says that money is instrumental to their services.
“It’s really hard to fundraise for operational dollars so the municipalities have really, really stepped up in the north, and the city of Grande Prairie has been on the lead of that. This funding provides stuff like fuel in the helicopters, salary for the staff, and the ability to take the helicopters out and do training. At the end of the day it allows us to do our missions in ways that we couldn’t without this money.”
Schmidt says it’s huge for a city of just 50,000 people to reach that amount in such a short time.
“The residents of Grande Prairie, when they’re in the city they really don’t need the STARS helicopters, it’s when they’re out playing, it’s when they’re out working in the area. I think the city really recognizes that their people not only live in the city, but they work and play outside of the city, and they have a need to work with their northern partners to provide that service to the entire north.”
Flight Paramedic Russell Bordak has has lived in Grande Prairie for 20 years. He says it’s a real pleasure to see his city be the first in Alberta to earn that logo.
“There’s going to be a lot of good natured ribbing between myself and the other practitioners in Grande Prairie. We’re going to be talking to our colleagues in Edmonton and Calgary, giving them some ribbing that, you know, we’re first.”
Of the six STARS bases in the province, the base in Grande Prairie is the third busiest.