A former STARS patient is highlighting the importance of the air-ambulance service and its role saving lives in Alberta.
Tiffany Lau was severely injured in a head-on crash in 2017 just outside of Calgary. STARS responded and the medical crew rescued her from a field and flew her to Foothills hospital.
Lau doesn’t remember much about the crash, but she does recall her injuries, which were extensive.
“A punctured lung, punctured liver, fractured a bunch of ribs on my left side, all the way down, cracked pelvis, whiplash, concussions,” she said.
“I couldn’t see anything, I was blind. But the most memorable moment of that helicopter ride was there was a nurse… she actually held my hand in that helicopter ride.”
That small gesture helped Lau pull through and eventually make a full recovery.
“That feeling of fear, being alone, confused, all went away,” she said with a smile.
The critical role STARS plays in the health-care system is being highlighted as the organization seeks community support through its biggest fundraiser, the STARS Lottery.
“The lottery is our major fundraising event in Alberta and our target returns, after all costs, should bring us enough for that $10 million it takes to run one full base for one full year,” explained Linda Dalgetty, STARS CFO.
Alberta has three STARS bases so it takes roughly $30 million annually to run the service in the province.
Those costs go beyond just operating the air ambulances, she says. Money is spent on many aspects of emergency response that the public often doesn’t see or even associate with STARS.
“Our amazing medical crew, our Emergency Links Centre, which connects not just dispatch to the helicopter but also physicians to other physicians and to the emergency crews.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had where I cry regularly — happy tears — hearing about the amazing things that we do for people.”
Like many people, Lau admits she didn’t give STARS much thought until she needed the service that August night back in 2017.
“I knew who they were and (would) see them up in the sky but never thought much about them,” Lau said.
Now she’s one of their biggest supporters.
“I’m very grateful and every year I donate just to help them out because who else is going to help the people who need it?”
The STARS Lottery features many prizes, including various Dream Homes, vacations, a 50/50 draw, an Early Bird Prize and a Bonus Draw which is a fancy RV package.
There are various deadlines for multiple prize packages, with the final grand prize deadline of March 22. The lucky winners of the grand prizes and the 50/50 will find out April 5.
For more information on how to donate, simply visit STARS Lottery Alberta.