WARNING: This story contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers.
An Alberta woman who credits STARS Air Ambulance with saving her life is speaking out about how vital the non-profit organization is as it undergoes its annual fundraising campaign.
Justeen Kolody got a second chance at life after being in a severe accident when she was only 17 years old.
She was driving on a rural road near Vulcan, Alta., in 2008 when she lost control and rolled her vehicle into a ditch.
In an emotional interview with Global News, Kolody said she thought she was going to die.
“I ended up sitting there for about five and a half hours before anyone found me,” Kolody said. “By the time the ambulance came out, they saw that my injuries were very severe.”
Kolody was rushed by ground ambulance to hospital in Vulcan, where she was then transferred to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary via STARS Air Ambulance.
The Albertan said she doesn’t think she would be alive today if not for STARS.
There are 2,575 prizes featured in the 2020 lottery, including a 2,680-square-foot home in Calgary with an estimated retail value of $1,149,542, and another home in Edmonton (2,656-square-feet) with an estimated retail value of $927,780.
Early bird tickets are available until Feb. 27, followed by the early bird draw on March 13.
The final ticket deadline is March 19, 2020.
If the lottery sells out, the foundation will raise $12.4 million, which will be put toward Alberta’s three air ambulance bases in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie.
According to the STARS website, the approximate cost to operate the bases is $10 million each.
“The calls that these paramedics and the team go to, it is life or death,” Kolody explained.
STARS Air Ambulance said crews in Alberta went on over 1,400 missions last year alone.
“The highest risk time for someone is that period of time from hospital to hospital,” STARS paramedic Greg Barton explained. “We’re able to compress that with the helicopter, with the speed that we can offer. We’re bringing a critical care team out to the patient and getting them back to the facility in a timely fashion.”
Wendy Beauchesne from the STARS Foundation said the non-profit’s annual lottery directly supports the organization.