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Every time we go out on a mission, our STARS air medical crews rely on their extensive training and education to provide life-saving care to critically ill and injured patients.

And while that training and education is invaluable, so too is the ability to be nimble and make quick decisions based on years of critical care experience as nurses, paramedics and transport physicians.

It was a healthy combination of education, equipment and experience that played an important role when young Jamaica Hiebert and her family were involved in a head-on highway collision. Due to the severity of the incident, STARS was immediately dispatched to the scene.

Upon arrival, the STARS air medical crew was faced with three patients requiring immediate care. The air medical crew had to use their experience and training to triage by calmly assessing the situation and deciding who was most in need of critical care and rapid transport.

Flight nurse Tom Millar was partnered with paramedic Paul Farschou that day and could tell from their vantage point in the helicopter as they approached the scene that it was a devastating crash.

“As we flew above, we knew there was potential for serious injuries,” said Millar. “Once we landed, we individually assessed each of the three patients.”

Right away they could see where and how severe Jamaica’s injuries were based on the bruising patterns. In addition, the crew was able to use the medical supplies onboard to confirm.

“With ultrasound, we had the ability to figure out who had injuries, who needed to get to the hospital right now and who potentially could get to a trauma centre by ground or have us come back for them,” said Millar.

Bedside ultrasounds are a critical tool inside STARS helicopters, and we are able to carry them thanks largely to the generosity of our allies. Bringing ultrasound to these patients offers STARS transport teams another valuable tool to help guide care for patient like Jamaica.

It was decided that Jamaica would be transported to an urgent care hospital via STARS, an assessment that proved to be correct as she had sustained serious internal injuries.

Jamaica and her family are not only grateful that the helicopter was available that day, they appreciate the medical tools available for patients.

“I’m just so impressed by how they’re able to assess the level of injury that different people have, especially because sometimes you can’t see it externally,” said Jamaica’s mother, Gloria.

“I didn’t even realize how serious things were for Jamaica and then a helicopter comes in. It was scary but at the same time I was so grateful that STARS was there to help her and get her to the medical care that she needed.”

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