STARS air ambulance one of those valuable services we hope we don't have to use
There are many things we take for granted in life.
We expect certain services to be provided, without fail, whenever we need them. That is the nature living in a relatively privileged country like Canada.
But more often than not, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that allows these services to be provided seamlessly. Many of us know very little about the processes involved, which quite often includes one very important component - money.
Such is the case when one thinks of the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service, or STARS, as it is much more well known.
STARS has flown more than 23,000 helicopter missions since 1985, and has become one of those valuable services, one which Albertans have come to expect will be there for them when they need it the most.
Like anything, however, that need for service is balanced by a need for funding. Last week, Lethbridge witnessed the launch of the 20th annual STARS lottery, the main fundraiser every year for the not-for-profit organization. Last year, the lottery contributed $10 million to boost the emergency service. This year, tickets are already 40-per-cent sold, which shows the commitment Albertans have for this valuable service.
In all, 3,200 prizes worth a total of $5.6 million are up for grabs, and that includes a bungalow in West Lethbridge's new Canyons subdivision which has been valued at $795,000.
More important than the volume of value of the prizes is the cause they collectively support. Local residents have utilized STARS in the past, and will continue to need this valuable service in the future. You simply never know when an emergency will strike, and although we are all hopeful STARS is a service we will not have to call upon, we can be grateful it is available in times of need.
When STARS is needed, it costs the organization about $5,400 per flight to operate the service. As about 75 per cent of STARS funding comes from private donations, fundraisers such as the lottery take on great significance every year.
Considering STARS made 1,655 hospital trips in 2011, which equates to about four trips per day, from its bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie, one never knows when the need will arise. Of those trips, about 50 were made between Lethbridge and Calgary.
Rest assured, tragic events and emergencies will require the air ambulance to swoop in for the rescue many times in 2013 and beyond. The hope is when that call does come in, someone will be ready to go on the other end, all thanks to the generous support from their fellow Albertans.
Comment on this editorial online at www.lethbridgeherald.