fbpx
Thursday , 5 August 2021

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report released

A report on Alberta’s helicopter emergency medical services looks at existing services, gaps in coverage, best practices and procedures, and funding models.

Over the coming months, the Government of Alberta will evaluate the report and consult with helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) providers before making any final decisions. Alberta Health Services is responsible for the delivery of emergency medical services across Alberta, including ground, fixed-wing and helicopter ambulances.

“Thank you to the HEMS providers and community leaders who provided their perspective on the delivery of helicopter emergency medical services in Alberta,” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health said. “We all agree that in life-threatening situations, Albertans need to know that they can get the help they need – no matter where they are. We will be reviewing the report further and consulting with HEMS providers in the coming months to determine next steps.”

Approximately 1,450 helicopter flights take place each year; 7,300 are flown using fixed-wing aircraft. Currently, Alberta Health Services provides about $8.4 million per year to helicopter emergency medical services funding. Approximately 1,450 helicopter flights take place each year; 7,300 are flown using fixed-wing aircraft.

  • The three main helicopter service providers that support emergency medical services are:
    • STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service)
      • Bases are located in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.
      • In 2019-20, STARS flew 1,255 missions (about 92.6 per cent of all missions).
      • STARS covers 90 per cent of Alberta’s rural and remote population without refuelling from its current base locations.
      • STARS is the only provider that delivers critical care level service on 24-7 dedicated helicopters with advanced life-support equipment.
    • HALO (Helicopter Air Lift Operation)
      • Based in Medicine Hat, it serves southeast Alberta.
      • In 2019-20, HALO flew 38 missions (about 2.8 per cent of all missions).
    • HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization)
      • Based in Fort McMurray, it serves northeast Alberta.
      • In 2019-20, HERO flew 62 missions (about 4.6 per cent of all missions).

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations, with the three main recommendations being:

  • Single provider: Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) would become the dedicated helicopter emergency medical service provider for the province. STARS would work with other helicopter emergency medical providers to ensure consistent, safe coverage across Alberta. Provincial funding for STARS would rise to 50 per cent of their operating budget (from the current 23 per cent).
  • Legislation: A new air ambulance regulation would establish consistent deployment, operational, clinical and aviation standards.
  • Dispatch integration: The dispatch of STARS would be integrated with other emergency medical services to allow for the best use of all services to achieve the most efficient response.

Currently, there are no regulations guiding the standards of air ambulance medical services in Alberta.

[email protected]

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!