Since its inception in 1985, the emergency transport system has completed more than 22,000 missions across the Prairies
Carrie Derin tells a matter-of-fact story about the day that could have ended her life.
That she’s telling it all is a credit to the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society, or STARS, she said.
“I don’t believe I would have made that trip from Moose Mountain (Provincial Park) to the city or be talking to you in the same capacity I am today,” the Regina woman said recently.
Derin, her husband and two daughters were quadding in the southeast Saskatchewan park on Aug. 31, 2012.
“I was driving down a logging road,” she explained. “A beaver had fallen a tree and it was propped up and I didn’t see it. I ran into the tree and it came through the front of my quad.”
The tree pierced her abdomen and impaled her against the seat.
Her husband raced off to get help, leaving a conscious Derin with her two daughters, then 10 and 15.
“I do (remember),” she said of the time they spent waiting. “It seemed to take forever but the girls were great and they were my strength.”
A first responder from the park arrived with her husband, and then an ambulance team took her to a place where the STARS helicopter could land.
Derin was in critical condition, but still conscious, and the helicopter landed briefly at the Arcola Hospital for a two-minute stop to pick up blood for a transfusion. She was at Regina Hospital in about 40 minutes and spent a couple of weeks there recovering from a lacerated liver, damage to her diaphragm, shattered ribs and extensive blood loss.
“I was aware of STARS but never ever though I’d need them,” she said April 29 while marking the one-year anniversary of the helicopter ambulance’s service in the province.
Health minister Dustin Duncan was recently at a celebration at the Regina base when a call came in. He took to social media to express his admiration for how quickly the crew jumped into action, calling it “incredibly impressive” and “overwhelming.”
Derin visited the Regina base in November to thank the crew who saved her life. She is considered a STARS VIP, or very important patient, and stopped at the Regina Legislative Building last week with another flight crew as part of the one-year celebration.
Derin said all Saskatchewan residents should be thankful STARS is operating in the province.
She counts herself lucky and said the effects of her accident are few.
“With the exception of a little bit of stiffness and a few missing ribs, I feel great,” she said.
- The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society, or STARS, is a not-for-profit organization that transports patients to hospitals by helicopter. It has bases in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg.
- STAR-9 was launched in Regina on April 30, 2012 and STAR-11 opened in Saskatoon Oct. 15, 2012.
- In its first year in Saskatchewan, STARS has flown 370 missions and transported or cared for more than 250 patients.
- STARS relies on funding from the provincial government, corporate donations and fundraising to operate its two bases. The province contributes about $10.5 million per year to its operation. This year, the ministry of health is building a $3.4-million helipad on the roof of Regina General Hospital.