Flying high to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic
Published Monday, May 25, 2020 8:08AM CST Last Updated Monday, May 25, 2020 8:13AM CST
(Photo courtesy STARS Air Ambulance)
Over the past several months, life has changed for everybody around the world. The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all, in one way or another. And while the pandemic caught us all by surprise, one of the groups impacted most is healthcare workers – but that’s exactly when they shine the brightest.
In Manitoba, STARS Air Ambulance has been providing specialized emergency medical care and air transport for critically ill and injured patients since 2011. In that time, STARS has flown nearly 4,000 missions, including a record 760 missions between April 2019 and March 2020.
During the pandemic, the importance of STARS has been even more significant. Thanks to their nurses, paramedics, transport physicians, pilots, and engineers, they’ve flown more than 100 missions since March 1, helping patients in remote Manitoba communities get care or transportation when needed. With the support of their allies, STARS crews have received extensive training, experience, and tools to safely handle and care for patients with a wide range of diseases, including carrying airborne ventilators on missions to treat patients with COVID-19.
As a non-profit organization, donations fuel STARS’ lifesaving efforts during the pandemic. STARS is able to offer their services at no cost to patients thanks to government support and donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and other service clubs. Every dollar given directly helps save lives in Manitoba, ensuring STARS can provide protective equipment and medical supplies for their team, and keep helicopters in flight.
However, due to the pandemic, STARS has been forced to postpone or cancel the fundraising events they had planned. Every year, STARS and their partners run events vital to keeping the organization in operation. These include everything from community suppers to golf tournaments to bake sales.
While the pandemic’s total impact on STARS’ funding is yet to be known, it will certainly be significant. Because the planned events have been put on hold, STARS has been driven to get creative with new opportunities to raise money, including an incredibly successful online concert that ran on May 8th, which brought in more than $117,000 to support operations at all six bases across Western Canada. The concert included some of Canada’s top country artists, including Brett Kissel, Jess Moskaluke, the Hunter Brothers, and George Canyon, plus appearances from celebrities like Ron MacLean, Olympic snowboarder Mark McMorris, Josh Morrissey of the Winnipeg Jets, and many more.
STARS is working hard during these challenging times to find new opportunities to continue providing Manitobans with world-class critical care and rapid transport to hospital at no cost to patients, and with the pandemic impacting their ability to fundraise, the support of the public is more important than ever before.
On May 27th, STARS is hosting the Critical Care on the Air Radiothon across the Bell Media radio stations in Winnipeg, where listeners will hear from STARS team members, their allies, and patients over the course of 12 hours. You can support the radiothon and make donations at www.CriticalCareOnTheAir.ca.
To help fuel STARS’ life-saving missions, visit www.stars.ca to make single or monthly donations or to learn about upcoming STARS fundraising events.