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STARS first responders in Saskatchewan have new lifesaving tool

STARS celebrated the arrival of its next H145 helicopter at its Saskatoon base on Wednesday.
STARS celebrated the arrival of its next H145 helicopter at its Saskatoon base on Wednesday. Devon Latchuk / Global News

Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) unveiled a new helicopter on Wednesday in Saskatoon.

The newest machine in the fleet is an Airbus H145 which will help deliver critical care in rural Saskatchewan for decades to come. It’s a newer, updated version of the aircraft currently being used.

READ MORE: Rescue on the Prairie raises $360K for STARS air ambulance

The H145 also features a “clip in and clip out” interior, allowing crews to bring in new equipment as technology advances.

“What this does for us is allows us huge flexibility,” STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson said.

The original aircraft have been used for 35 years. Airbus no longer manufactures the H145’s predecessor — the BK117 — and the cost of maintaining the helicopters are increasing.

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“What we wanted is a helicopter that is going to last generations to come,” Robertson said.

“So our original aircraft has been flown for 35 years and we would still fly it if we could get new parts — but we can’t.”

WATCH (July 2019): New heliport opens in Saskatoon on top of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

New heliport opens in Saskatoon on top of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital
New heliport opens in Saskatoon on top of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

In June 2018, STARS unveiled a multi-year plan to renew its entire fleet with the help of government, business and the community. Nine new helicopters were required, at a cost of $13 million each.

Within a few years, the goal is to have three of the new helicopters based in Saskatoon.

Wednesday’s event included the announcement of $1 million to the fleet-renewal campaign from local philanthropists Gordon and Jill Rawlinson.

-With files from Ryan Kessler