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Lakeland Friends of STARS holding fundraiser gala

Lakeland Friends of STARS is busy planning for “Dancing Under the Stars,” a fundraiser gala for STARS Air Rescue at the Cold lake Agriplex on Sept. 18.

Lakeland Friends of STARS is busy planning for “Dancing Under the Stars,” a fundraiser gala for STARS Air Rescue at the Cold lake Agriplex on Sept. 18.

Danny Hooper, 790 CFCW morning host, will MC the evening, and local singer Tiffany Dowhan will provide entertainment. The evening will feature a STARS 25th anniversary video and former patients' stories.

Devon Canada will fly a STARS helicopter to Bonnyville during the day for training with local rescue workers, and then to Cold Lake for viewing at the gala.

Organizer Cathy Griffith said oil companies in the region have been quick to step up to the plate. CNRL, B&R Eckel's, Husky, Lakeland Homes, Devon Canada, and Imperial Oil are sponsoring the evening. Griffith said with the sponsorship100 per cent of the money raised at the gala go to STARS. At press time, a few tickets for the gala were still available for $75.

The evening will include live and silent auctions. Guitars signed by George Strait, Johnny Reid, and AC/DC will be on the auction block, as well as several items of signed hockey memorabilia, two Grey Cup tickets (including accommodations in Edmonton), and condo vacation time in Florida and Maui. A meet and greet with Johnny Reid and tickets to the show on Sept. 24 will also be available for bids.

“We receive a lot of support from rural communities,” said Mauren Henkel, fundraising development officer for STARS in Edmonton. “We'd certainly like them to be able to come and attend.”

STARS Air Rescue receives 75 per cent of its funding from community donations and the rest from Alberta Health Services.

“It's incredibly important to continue having that support of communities across the province to keep STARS in the sky,” said spokesman Cam Heke. “We wouldn't be able to provide the services that we do without that community support.”

STARS Air Rescue flew 10 missions to Bonnyville last year, seven to Elk Point, and 20 to St. Paul. In 2008, STARS Air Rescue flew 15 times to Bonnyville, six to Elk Point, and 25 to St. Paul, as well as twice to Cold Lake. STARS has flown 19,500 missions since 1985.

A STARS Air Rescue flight from Bonnyville takes around 50 minutes, depending on the weather, while a flight from Cold Lake is around 55 minutes. STARS can be in the air within eight minutes of receiving a call.

Each mission flies with flight paramedic and a flight nurse, while an emergency physician flies on around 25 per cent of missions as necessary. STARS flies with two pilots to ensure optimal safety on each flight.

STARS services a radius of 250 km outside Edmonton, placing Cold Lake on the outer edge of the service area. With the current model of helicopter, the Eurocopter BK 117, a flight to Cold Lake can require a stop for refuelling, making ground ambulance the more frequent choice.

However, the AgustaWestland 139 (AW 139) helicopter, expected to be released early next year, will reduce flight time from Edmonton to Cold Lake to just over 40 minutes and will not require a stop for refuelling. The AW139 can reach a speed of 173 miles per hour, 25 per cent faster than the BK117. The AW 139 can also accommodate two patients if necessary.

About half the missions flown by STARS are for medical emergencies like strokes or cardiac arrest. The other half of missions are for trauma cases, including vehicle collisions, or emergencies in remote areas.