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STARS Update on New H145 Fleet

Image of STARS New H145 Helicopter

The STARS Keep the Fight in Flight capital campaign goal has been reached, thanks to its generous allies, including Saddle Hills County. The entire new fleet of H145 helicopters is now in operation and directly impacting lives every day thanks to community support. 

STARS officially welcomed their new airbus H145 helicopters to Edmonton and Grande Prairie last spring. The helicopters have already helped patients in the area, having entered service in the summer of 2022, after months of aviation, medical, and engineering training. This is a significant milestone as it means that all six bases are now flying the new model and improving STARS ability to be there for patients in Alberta.

The features of the H145 are “are almost too numerous to go through,” according to Dave Harding, STARS Chief Aviation Officer. “This aircraft does things that the previous aircraft couldn’t even hope to do.”

H145 automation, one of the new features, plays a role in enhanced confidence in the cockpit and is considered the most important aspect in terms of overall safety, Harding said. “The most stressful mission in a BK117 now becomes a mission that is much more easily managed ... now the aircraft is taking care of a lot of the grunt work,” said Harding. “The crew have a tremendous increase in that free space in their cognitive ability, so they can make good decisions, sound decisions — the safest decisions.”

For the STARS air medical crew, too, there are distinct advantages.

Once the patient is “packaged,” a bridge is locked in place to the stretcher over their upper legs. All equipment — intravenous lines, ventilator, blood tubing, multiple infusions — can be mounted on the bridge. 

Everything stays fastened for the entire journey. 

The medical crew can also detach the stretcher from its wheels, tote it to wherever it is needed, then return to the helicopter with the patient and smoothly slide it back into place.

“Imagine, when you land in an unprepared field, whether it’s cow patties and plowed dirt, trying to lug that stretcher (with wheels on),” said Greg Barton, STARS Flight Paramedic.

The communications system for the H145 is another major upgrade. There are now two radios, meaning one of the medical crew can reach out to the Emergency Link Centre, while another member can contact local first responders on scene. Each aircraft is also equipped with Wi-Fi and satellite capability, which STARS is using to trial physicians’ ability to remotely access patient data in real time.

The most pivotal advantage of our helicopter mobile intensive care units is that patients start receiving life-saving care right away.

“I just can’t emphasize enough how much we appreciate the support of our allies in allowing us to do this and care for these critical patients in the back,” said Barton. “We’re really excited about being able to offer critical care to our patients for generations to come – thank you so much.”

Read the full report here: Keep the Fight in Flight Impact Report

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