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Alberta

Provincial report recommends doubling support and making STARS sole air ambulance provider

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Stars Red Deer

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report released

A report on Alberta’s helicopter emergency medical services looks at existing services, gaps in coverage, best practices and procedures, and funding models.

Over the coming months, the Government of Alberta will evaluate the report and consult with helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) providers before making any final decisions.

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations, with the three main recommendations being:

  • Single provider: Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) would become the dedicated helicopter emergency medical service provider for the province. STARS would work with other helicopter emergency medical providers to ensure consistent, safe coverage across Alberta. Provincial funding for STARS would rise to 50 per cent of their operating budget (from the current 23 per cent).
  • Legislation: A new air ambulance regulation would establish consistent deployment, operational, clinical and aviation standards.
  • Dispatch integration: The dispatch of STARS would be integrated with other emergency medical services to allow for the best use of all services to achieve the most efficient response.

“Thank you to the HEMS providers and community leaders who provided their perspective on the delivery of helicopter emergency medical services in Alberta. We all agree that in life-threatening situations, Albertans need to know that they can get the help they need – no matter where they are. We will be reviewing the report further and consulting with HEMS providers in the coming months to determine next steps.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • Helicopter emergency medical services are essential when ground ambulances cannot reach Albertans during a medical emergency or they are unable to reach them in a safe and timely manner.
  • Alberta Health Services is responsible for the delivery of emergency medical services across Alberta, including ground, fixed-wing and helicopter ambulances.
  • Currently, Alberta Health Services provides about $8.4 million per year to helicopter emergency medical services funding.
  • Approximately 1,450 helicopter flights take place each year; 7,300 are flown using fixed-wing aircraft.
  • The three main helicopter service providers that support emergency medical services are:
    • STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service)
      • Bases are located in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.
      • In 2019-20, STARS flew 1,255 missions (about 92.6 per cent of all missions).
      • STARS covers 90 per cent of Alberta’s rural and remote population without refuelling from its current base locations.
      • STARS is the only provider that delivers critical care level service on 24-7 dedicated helicopters with advanced life-support equipment.
    • HALO (Helicopter Air Lift Operation)
      • Based in Medicine Hat, it serves southeast Alberta.
      • In 2019-20, HALO flew 38 missions (about 2.8 per cent of all missions).
    • HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization)
      • Based in Fort McMurray, it serves northeast Alberta.
      • In 2019-20, HERO flew 62 missions (about 4.6 per cent of all missions).
  • Currently, there are no regulations guiding the standards of air ambulance medical services in Alberta.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Oilers goaltender Stalock likely to miss season due to possible heart condition

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EDMONTON — Goaltender Alex Stalock will likely miss the season due to a possible heart condition said Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland on Wednesday.

Speaking on the opening day of Oilers training camp, Holland said the possible condition was detected when he returned home for more tests after the team’s physical exam at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Holland said Stalock contracted COVID-19 before the start of the 56-game shortened season, but was later cleared to play and spent time on the Oilers’ taxi squad after the team claimed him off waivers from the Minnesota Wild in March. 

He did not appear in a game with either Minnesota or Edmonton last season.

Holland said Stalock has seen “a couple” of cardiologists and is looking to get additional opinions.

Stalock, a 34-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., has a 61-49-18 record with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 151 career NHL games with San Jose and Minnesota.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Regulatory group warns several Alberta doctors about sharing COVID-19 misinformation

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EDMONTON — A group that oversees the practice of medicine in Alberta says it has told at least seven doctors who were spreading misinformation about COVID-19 that their behaviour was unprofessional.

Scott McLeod, registrar with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, says the regulator has also spoken to doctors who gave into pressure from patients wanting an exemption letter– not grounded in clinical evidence — to avoid having to wear masks or vaccinations.

McLeod says the college is to publish a letter this week addressed to physicians and the public to reiterate its support for vaccines and public health restrictions put in place to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The college says the doctors who were warned had been spreading misinformation on social media platforms or elsewhere.

McLeod says it’s disappointing to see that type of behaviour and noted it has a significant effect because doctors have a powerful voice in society.

He adds the number of doctors painting a false narrative in the province is unprecedented.

McLeod says if doctors don’t stick to basic science that outlines how to protect people during a pandemic, the public and other physicians can file an official complaint with the college.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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