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AMTA continues efforts to raise new STARS in the sky

CALGARY, Alta. - The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) is rekindling its relationship with the Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS), in attempts to help raise funds for the Vision...

CALGARY, Alta. – The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) is rekindling its relationship with the Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS), in attempts to help raise funds for the Vision Critical Capital Campaign.The Alberta trucking industry and STARS teamed up for the initial fundraising campaign, nearly 20 years ago, to help bring helicopter medical assistance to the province.

Now, the AMTA is raising awareness in its membership for the support of the Vision Critical Capital Campaign, which will see two new helicopters added to the Alberta STARS fleet.

Since its inception, STARS has been providing emergency airborne medical services to remote areas around Edmonton and Calgary.

Recent innovations in aviation technology and medicine have created a need for STARS to increase its capabilities.

“The primary purpose of the vision critical campaign is to raise capital purchasing for two new helicopters,” explained Ray Fehr, major gift officer with STARS. “They will be able to fly faster, longer and carry more passengers.”

The campaign kicked off two years ago with a goal of raising $25 million. A unanimous decision by the AMTA Board of Directors began the involvement of the association in supporting the campaign. As an association the AMTA is coordinating efforts to raise $600,000 for the new helicopter cause.

“As an industry we need to be interested,” said Jim Davis, president of the AMTA. “For one we have 12,000 members all over the province and these helicopters will have far more accessibility. As well, our members encounter situations where STARS would be of help, it’s a benefit to the overall community and a benefit to our membership.”

Some transportation companies have already contributed cash or pledges ranging between $5,000 and $100,000. Pledges can be made over a three to five year period, so payments do not have to be made right away and the response from the AMTA has been good, says Fehr.

“We’re providing a conduit, making our members aware of the campaign and making them aware of the association’s support of the campaign,” explained Davis.

So far, efforts from AMTA members have raised about $401,000, which has helped STARS significantly in reaching its $25 million target. Currently, STARS has received about $24.5 million in cash and pledges, which puts them over the $24 million cost for two helicopters and nearly at the target.

STARS is currently investigating new helicopters, which will come equipped with de-icing capabilities. The new technology will allow the medical unit to respond to calls in poor weather conditions; something STARS has been unable to do in the past.

Bigger and better equipped, the new helicopters will also increase the range STARS is able to cover in responding to emergency situations. The coverage area will be doubled, expanding into regions of B.C. and Saskatchewan.

“The treatment starts once a patient is loaded into the helicopter, not back at the trauma centre,” said Fehr.

Once all the funding is in place, STARS expects to have the new helicopters operational by 2008 and compliment the old helicopters in servicing the province.

“The newer ones will carry more operating costs because they are bigger,” noted Fehr. “We will determine mission-by-mission which is the best helicopter for each situation.”

The maps to the right indicate the range currently covered by the STARS helicopters as well as the proposed range.

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