A fundraiser is being held to help keep HERO 1 in the air.
The helicopter is the only Fort McMurray based aircraft providing emergency medical services 24/7 in northern Alberta.
President of the H.E.R.O Foundation, which funds the aircraft, Paul Spring tells Mix News they save a life a month and get at least three calls a week where they are really helping people.
“I know it one case a gentleman phoned us three days after his event and thanked us for saving his life, because the drug that was with the fire department on board the aircraft, sure they could have driven that individual to town, but we needed to get that drug to him as quick as possible and inject. It’s a drug called Vital Heart.”
Spring notes the foundation, which has been around for about four years, is constantly in a funding battle as it costs around $3 million a year to keep the aircraft in the air. Right now, they get funding from the RMWB, oil companies and Alberta Health, who pays them on a fee per service. The foundation is currently in talks with Alberta Health to come up with a funding model, but Spring says that would still put the $400 – 500, 000 short to cover their fuel and maintenance.
Spring adds the fundraiser isn’t just about raising money, it’s also to create awareness because there’s a perception that STARS air ambulance covers us.
“STARS covers that area between Edmonton and Wandering River and then further south in Calgary. So, they’ve got the southern half of Alberta well covered, but really there’s nothing else other than the HERO program up in northern Alberta here to help people when they have a problem.”
The East Coast Lobster Party with Chef Michael Smith on Saturday at Shell Place.
Tickets can be purchased from the Recreation Corporation Box office.