Not long after Lorne Smyth was carried by STARS, his family found ways to express thanks to the Manitoba first responders and health-care workers who cared for their son after he was critically injured.

When it came to STARS, Cindy Smyth, Lorne’s mother, decided words weren’t enough to convey their gratitude. Instead, she worked with her employer, the Heart & Stroke Foundation as well as a supplier, to donate an automated external defibrillator (AED) for use internally by staff at the STARS Manitoba base. Her family then donated a battery pack and other essential supplies to ensure it remained operational.

For the crew at STARS, the gift is a lasting, practical reminder of the family’s support.

“It’s humbling to receive a thank-you like that,” said base director, Dave Harding, who was there when the family came for an emotional visit with Lorne’s crew.  “We couldn’t believe the progress he had made in such a short time compared to when we last saw him after the incident.”

Cindy said of supplying the AED was the least they could do after Lorne, then 21, collided with a tree during a motocross race in Grunthal, MB on June 3, 2012 and was flown by STARS to receive urgent care at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre. An ambulance was already on site for the race but due to the severity of Lorne’s injuries, STARS was needed.  The medical crew was was able to stabilize him and apply advanced medical care before transporting him.

“What happened devastated us and I hope no other family faces the same experience,” said Cindy. “We appreciate all STARS does every day because we have walked in the shoes of other families and it’s a long journey.”

She called the crew and other staff she met, compassionate. “We recognize that this is not a job to them, but a calling.”

Lorne, who sustained a number of injuries including a head injury, fractured ribs, collapsed lung and fractures to some vertebrae in his back and neck, continues to improve – although it’s been a challenge. He has had to re-learn how to eat, walk and talk.

Lorne has since returned to school at Red River College with the hope of returning to work as an apprentice electrician.

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