Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Put restrictions on STARS flights, report urges

  • Print

Flight crew on the province's Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society helicopter ambulance service won't be able to fly kids under 12 from hospital to hospital until they have the proper backup in place at Children's Hospital.

The recommendation is one seven made in a report released Wednesday by the province on allowing the helicopter emergency service back to full flights. The report and its recommendations are the work of the province's clinical oversight committee on STARS led by University of Manitoba dean of medicine Dr. Brian Postl.

Air-ambulance report

What the it says about transporting children hospital to hospital:

The needs of children must always remain paramount to any emergency medical service.

They require highly specialized services and generally are low volume, relative to adult needs.

In 2011-12 there were 449 pediatric transports (48 by air). This increased to 792 in 2012-13 with 417 transported by air. The vast majority are Northern Region with Children's Hospital as the main destination. The majority of these calls would be in the neonatal age group and they are well-served by a pediatric transport team.

A similar model is proposed for children (to age 12) involving physician and staff of Children's Hospital. The on-call pediatric intensive-care unit attending could serve as a medical consultant regarding the dispatch decision of this team which would include the pediatric respiratory therapist, ICU nurse and ICU physician if required.

This would free up money to provide and support a pediatric transport team for helicopter emergency services and (fixed-wing) LifeFlight needs.

This is an essential recommendation and STARS should not be involved in inter-facility transport of children under the age of 12 until it is put in place.

"No pediatric inter-facility transfers are going to happen before that pediatric transport team is in place," Health Minister Erin Selby said.

A process is already in place for neonatal flights, and STARS is allowed to fly children to hospitals from emergency scenes, such as vehicle collisions.

STARS was temporarily suspended from flying all medical flights last Dec. 2 following the death of a woman after an inter-hospital flight in late November. It was the third serious case in a year involving the Alberta-based helicopter air-ambulance service. One included a case in May last year involving two-year-old Morgan Moar-Campbell, who was being flown to Winnipeg from Brandon on a STARS helicopter for tests following a seizure. The boy was in an induced coma and could not breathe on his own. When he landed in Winnipeg, it was discovered his breathing tube had become dislodged, depriving him of oxygen and severely damaging his brain. His case is the subject of a lawsuit.

On March 7, STARS was allowed to fly again by the province, but only in response to emergency scene calls. STARS was allowed to resume adult hospital-to-hospital flights July 2 when the enormity of this summer's flood threat was determined.

Postl said in the report there have been "serious issues in communication" between STARS and health department officials since STARS started flights in Manitoba about three years ago.

"This has existed for many reasons, but I note there is opportunity for improvement in the formal structure for communication," Postl said. "I would recommend an operations-liaison committee be established and they meet monthly or more frequently at the call of the chair. Agendas should be focused on information sharing and problem solving."

The panel recommended STARS pursue Canadian Medical Association accreditation and that it be integrated into the province's 911 emergency medical services system through Brandon's Medical Transportation Coordination Centre. The centre coordinates the dispatch of all rural and northern emergency medical services in the province.

As well, Manitoba Health is to complete the transfer of the STARS service purchase agreement to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, effective Aug. 1. This process has been underway for several months and is intended to give STARS medical crews experience in Winnipeg's emergency medical system.

STARS spokesman Cam Heke said STARS will comply with each of the recommendations.

"We strongly feel that by working with the medical community in Manitoba we can provide a world-class helicopter EMS service right here in Manitoba," Heke said.

The recommendations apply to only Manitoba and STARS operations.

STARS has been dispatched to 721 missions and has transported 486 patients since 2011.

The Manitoba government awarded STARS a 10-year contract, worth about $10 million per year, in 2013, a move criticized by the province's former auditor general, Carol Bellringer, last March for not following the province's public tendering principles and policies.

The not-for-profit STARS is also funded through corporate, community and individual donations.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 24, 2014 A2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Andrew Ladd talks about his injury

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of the government's announcement that there will be no balanced provincial budget until 2018?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google