Occasionally, Larissa Helbig eyes her herd of 25 bison and wonders which one sent her to hospital in a helicopter with life-threatening injuries. The bison on her remote ranch had been Helbig’s livelihood for 14 years when she was critically injured.

Helbig knew the job like the back of her hand.

But one hot August day, something unpredictable happened. As she let the animals out of the corral, she was slammed to the ground and gored by one bison in the herd.

A co-worker found her in a crumpled heap and called 911.

While the ambulance was en route, Helbig’s lungs collapsed. She was running out of time.

STARS landed at Helbig’s ranch, just steps away from where she lay injured. The most severe of her injuries came from the goring which damaged her left ribcage and lung. Resulting damage included a shattered collarbone and several broken vertebrae.

Once our air medical crew stabilized her, she was loaded into the helicopter. STARS carried her to hospital, while our paramedic and nurse fought to save her life.

Every year, STARS carries out approximately 3,000 missions across the Prairies, and roughly three per cent of those missions take place on farms and ranches, just like Helbig’s.

These patients are our friends, family, and neighbours. They are fellow farmers and ranchers who work hard day in and day out in sometimes challenging situations, and often remote locations.

“We’re very fortunate to have the type of healthcare that we have and to have STARS. We don’t know how lucky we are,” Helbig recounts as she thinks back on her incident.

After nearly a month spent in recovery, Helbig returned to working with her bison and credits STARS with saving her life. “If you’re sitting on the fence about supporting STARS, don’t. You just never know when it’s your turn.”

For the many remote farmers and ranchers we care for across Western Canada on their very worst day, access to critical care doesn’t feel so far away because allies like you make it possible.