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County pledges $500K towards new STARS helicopter

The County of Grande Prairie has handed over $500,000 to STARS to go towards the cost of a new H145 helicopter to serve residents in the entire northern region.

“When you live in rural and remote Alberta, STARS, as many of us have first-hand experience, can mean the difference between life and death for an individual,” says Reeve Leanne Beaupre.

The organization is trying to replace the ageing fleet of BK117 and AW139 choppers with new medically equipped Airbus H145 for $13 million each.

STARS CEO Andrea Robertson believes the versatility the helicopters need to show is as great as the landscape found in the Grande Prairie area.

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“We are the closest thing to most of [the] industry, so people are working up here, and further north that we can reach.”

Beaupre adds the plethora of medical services on display in the Peace Country cannot really work without all of the parts moving in unison, she STARS plays a vital role in the region.

“It’s an integral service amongst all of the health care providers, it’s not just rotary, or fixed-wing or ground ambulance, it’s really a combination of everything,” she says.

“The last piece of the puzzle is the rotary wing, and STARS gets to places that neither fixed wing or ground ambulance can get to, and a lot of our loved ones work in those remote areas,” she adds.

Nine new helicopters are set to be spread across bases in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and while STARS is already flying missions with the new H145 aircraft from its Calgary base, it’s not known when Grande Prairie will be used as a home base for the first time.

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