November 29, 2022 | Operations, Our Team

A Decade of Critical Care in Land of Living Skies

An image from the unveiling of the new Airbus H145 helicopter in Saskatoon in 2019.

Time flies by when you’re busy fighting for the lives of patients. Just ask Daniel Kobylak.

“We essentially started with nothing but unwavering support, and it’s grown into something pretty amazing,” said Kobylak, STARS flight paramedic and clinical operations manager, looking back on our first 10 years in Saskatchewan.

Kobylak has been with STARS since “before Day 1,” when there was a government commitment but no bases, aircraft or personnel.

“It doesn’t feel like a decade, yet look at all we’ve accomplished together,” he said. “It’s been incredibly rewarding.”

In addition to more than 9,300 missions to more than 500 Saskatchewan communities, STARS has brought national and international industry firsts to the province, like carrying blood on board, launching a program to train rural health practitioners, and piloting programs like air-to-ground Wi-Fi medical data transmission and mass hemorrhage protocols. And we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners, responding to some of the largest mass-casualty incidents our province has faced.

For captain pilot Jason Oblinski, when STARS opened in 2012, it felt like the organization filled a void.

“Everything clicked. The mission was clear. We saw what needed to be done, and it seemed like all our partners did as well,” said Oblinski, who was the first pilot hired in the province.

Both Oblinski and Kobylak credit a warm reception in Saskatchewan — including cooperation with our partners — for making STARS a reality so quickly.

“More than 10 years on, it’s still the same: we feel welcomed, needed,” said Oblinski. “It’s rare now that I go to a town that I haven’t been to before, and it feels good that we are here to help patients when and where we’re needed.”

One of the earliest patients Oblinski flew was Carrie Derin, who was cared for after a life-threatening ATV incident in 2012.

“Ten years later, I’ve been able to celebrate so many things: my kids growing up and becoming successful, my 50th birthday, wedding anniversaries — milestones I may have missed had it not been for STARS,” said Derin.

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