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This article was published 26/4/2019 (950 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
STARS air ambulance is to receive a $1-million boost from Winnipeg-based agriculture giant James Richardson & Sons, Ltd.
"We’ve had personnel in life-threatening situations, and they’ve been there, so it is a very natural thing for us to support," said Hartley Richardson, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
"I don’t really look at it as a donation, I look at it as an investment in the well-being of people across Western Canada."
Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) is a non-profit air ambulance organization which operates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and eastern B.C. Its bright red helicopters are kept in flight by grants and private donations.
STARS will receive a one-time grant of $1 million over four years; the funds will go toward day-to-day operations across Western Canada, STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson said.
Richardson owns agricultural and oil and gas companies operating and employing people in rural areas.
"Knowing that a STARS air ambulance is at the ready, should the unimaginable occur, provides us an immeasurable degree of peace of mind," Hartley Richardson said.
At a news conference Friday to announce the funding, Chris Elliot told media how STARS flew him to crucial care after he crashed his dirt bike last May.
Elliot, a father of two who works for Richardson subsidiary Tundra Oil & Gas, was competing in a motocross event in Oxbow, a small town in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan. It was the first race of the year and everyone was gunning to finish strong, he said.
He came out of the first corner of the track in third place and put the race leader in his sights. As they approached a high-speed section of the track, Elliot hit a short jump and lost his grip on the handlebars. He crashed, winding up unconscious in the corner of the track.
Elliot was rushed to the hospital in Oxbow with a collapsed lung and a "laundry list" of injuries. Staff at the small hospital realized, with his injuries, that he needed to be transported to Regina, 250 kilometres away. STARS was called in.
"I never thought I would ever need this service," Elliot said. "Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes, they wear blue."
(STARS crew wear blue coveralls.)
"The community owns STARS," Robertson said. "When you see us flying overhead, please know that you put us there."
Since its start in 1985, STARS has flown about 42,000 missions in Canada, and 230 missions this month alone, Robertson said.