On the advice of medical professionals, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) air ambulance will resume responding to calls for emergency service effective immediately, Health Minister Erin Selby announced today.
“The decision to temporarily suspend STARS was a difficult one, but I rely on the advice of medical experts,” Minister Selby said. “The medical review process has been concluded, our medical team has signed off on the changes to address patient safety issues to its satisfaction and STARS will now be resuming emergency calls. This is an important first step to getting STARS back into full service for Manitoba families and for emergency medical service in this province.”
The decision to resume emergency calls was based on several new measures undertaken by STARS to further enhance patient safety within its service, the minister said.
“As an organization that believes in continuous improvement, we’re committed to making any changes needed to ensure we provide the highest-quality patient care,” said Andrea Robertson, CEO of STARS. “This is a new day for STARS in Manitoba and we look forward to getting back in the air, working with our partners to help save lives.”
The minister also announced a new Clinical Oversight Panel, under the leadership of Dr. Brian Postl. It will provide patient-focused guidance and oversight for helicopter air-ambulance service. This oversight will include training and accreditation for personnel, quality assurance for clinical operations and guiding the eventual resumption of inter-facility transfers by STARS in Manitoba.
“The focus of the panel will be on patient safety, quality of service and reassuring public confidence in an integral component of acute emergency medical care to Manitobans,” said Postl.
The members of the Clinical Oversight Panel are:
- Dr. Brian Postl, dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba and lead physician of the panel;
- Dr. Renate Singh, associate medical director, Manitoba Air Ambulance;
- Dr. Doug Eyolfson, associate medical director, Medical Transportation Coordination Centre;
- Dr. Doug Martin, base associate medical director, STARS Winnipeg;
- Dr. J.N. Armstrong, chief medical officer, STARS;
- Dr. Tony Herd, associate medical director, Manitoba Ground Ambulance; and
- Arlene Wilgosh, CEO, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) or her designate.
Manitoba Health has begun taking steps to transfer the STARS service to the WRHA, which will oversee the province’s arrangement with STARS. This will enable medical crews to enhance their experience and training in Winnipeg’s high-volume emergency and critical-care medical system.
During the floods of 2009 and 2011, Manitoba contracted STARS to provide specialized emergency medical services via helicopter. As a result of the medical support and depth of experience of STARS, the provincial government implemented a permanent helicopter air-ambulance program with STARS. Since arriving in Manitoba in 2011, STARS has flown 676 missions resulting in the transportation of 439 patients.
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