September 13, 2018 7:05 pm
Updated: September 14, 2018 8:26 am

STARS raise nearly $500,000 through unique Prairie rescue fundraiser

WATCH ABOVE: Rescue on the Prairies takes a unique approach to fundraising: five contestants are flown to a remote location and can only return after they each raise $50,000. Colton Prail reports.

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It’s been over five years since Const. Marcus Hirschfield was taken by air ambulance to hospital. He was involved in a head-on collision with a truck just south of Stony Plain, Alberta.

“It was mid-February, I was trapped in the vehicle for an hour and a half. I ended breaking my left femur and my right ankle in a number of places. When the crews responded they didn’t like where my vitals were at,” Hirschfield recounted.

The jaws of life were used to rescue him from his cruiser and STARS Air Ambulance took him to the University of Alberta Hospital.

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Five years later he’s still trying to find a way to thank them.

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“It’s like a debt I can’t ever pay off, but that I’m happy to keep paying down. My wife and I have a standing yes with STARS; whenever they call I say ‘yep, I’ll be there,’” he continued.

Hirschfield was invited by STARS to be a VIP – Very Important Passenger – at STARS Prairie Rescue, a fundraiser for the service.

“I think it’s really cool, I like that we take people out of their comfort zone and introduce them to some of the things that STARS does,” Hirschfield said of the fundraiser.

Rescue on the Prairies takes a unique approach to fundraising: five contestants are flown out to a remote location and can only return after they each raise $50,000.

Along the way teams compete in a series of challenges modelled after the work STARS paramedics do on a daily basis. The winners were rewarded with funds to the donation total.

“The first challenge of the day was called the readiness challenge, so they played those radio tones and the contestants each had to dress in their flight suits and gather their helmet and supplies for the day and get on board the airport,” Jordan Edgerton, a flight paramedic said.

“I think [the challenges] can be very similar and instill some good realism, some of the tasks we have to do can be quite challenging and for folks who have never had the opportunity to do some of these specific skills before they can be very challenging,” he continued.

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The exercises left contestants with a taste of what life as a paramedic is like. They had to rescue a person trapped in hay bales, deliver a baby on a picnic table, and work out how much fuel they would need to rescue a pair of victims who had rolled their car.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever had to do that and I hope it’s the last time,” laughed Garth MacDonald as he walked away from the makeshift birthing table.

It was MacDonald’s second time taking part in the fundraiser. Last year he raised over $150,000, this year that number climbed north of $188,000

“STARS has a big budget. I think part of it is creating awareness to as many people as we can and part of it is to raise some funds today, and it’s a great day,” MacDonald smiled.

In total over $490,000 was raised for STARS, something Hirschfield was all too happy to hear.

“Having it there, for them when they need it, is key. It’s like power and water, it’s an essential service in the prairies,” Hirschfield said.

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