WINNIPEG – The STARS air ambulance service, grounded in Manitoba since early December, will resume flying at noon Friday, Health Minister Erin Selby says.
The resumption of service follows the completion of a critical incident review on a flight after a woman died on November 28, 2013.
“The patient passed away due to an underlying medical condition,” said Selby.
It had been suggested the patient died after she received insufficient oxygen during a STARS flight, but that wasn’t the case said Selby.
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No set date for return of air ambulance helicopter: health minister
The critical incident report does say STARS medical crews received inadequate training.
“They have received further training during the suspension of service,” said Selby. “And a clinical oversight panel will make sure patients are safe.”
But this training still isn’t enough according to a 24-page review by Dr. Stephen Wheeler.
“STARS Manitoba’s preparation of its air medical crews for helicopter flight operations in Manitoba is currently inadequate,” said Wheeler. “A complete re-evaluation of the training program should be performed and further training of current staff should occur.”
Selby said December 2, 2013 she grounded the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society service over concerns about three critical incidents.
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Health officials suggested in the November 28 death, protocols put in place following earlier critical incidents weren’t followed.
In another incident, a two-year-old boy suffered severe brain damage after a breathing tube came loose during a flight in May, depriving him of oxygen.
The grounding of the service brought criticism from rural emergency responders who say the service is needed in their areas.
“Without STARS, it stresses everyone out to some degree knowing it’s not there,” said St. Anne Fire Chief Ken Dayment. “It’s a big relief to all emergency services when you know those people are there to back things up.”
But STARS CEO Andrea Robertson is optimistic for STAR’s future.
“We’re very, very confident that we’re going to provide very high quality patient care,” said Robertson.
While grounded, STARS would have been dispatched to 24 cases. Instead, patients had to rely on ground ambulances.