Manitoba Suspends STARS Air Ambulance Service

STARS Air Ambulance
STARS air ambulance conducts a mock rescue exercise at St. Andrews Airport on Saturday, March 9, 2013. (STAN MILOSEVIC / CHRISD.CA FILE)

The province has temporarily suspended medical transport service by STARS air ambulance after a woman’s death on November 28.

The patient was being transported for cardiac arrest from the Southern Health Region to Winnipeg, but later died after arriving in the city. A doctor, paramedic and critical care nurse were on board at the time, along with the proper medical equipment.

“This is a tragedy in which my deepest sympathies go out to the family. I can’t begin to understand the hurt they are feeling and my thoughts are with them,” said Health Minister Erin Selby. “This case is now being reviewed as a critical incident so we can get to the bottom of what happened and provide answers to the family.”

STARS will remain grounded in the province until a critical incident investigation can be completed.

Lifeflight and basic air-ambulance service has been expanded into southern communities and, if deemed medically necessary, physicians will accompany patients on land ambulance transfers during the pause in STARS service.

The non-profit aircraft and its medical team became a permanent fixture in Manitoba after being utilized in the province during the 2009 and 2011 floods. Until last week, STARS operated on 12-hour daily shifts out of Winnipeg.