STARS was just three years old when Marc Issler’s life was saved.
“The results of what was provided to me are obvious — I’m still alive,” said Issler, visiting the STARS base three decades later with the family he never would have had if he hadn’t survived a car crash in the 80s. “I’m still talking. I’m still capable of being a person. I was put back in that capability by the resources and by the tools and by the personnel and the equipment that allowed them to do it.”
It was 1988, when Issler’s vehicle hit a tree, fell down a riverbank, landed on its nose and came to rest on its wheels in a river. He was severely injured throughout the left side of his body and was rushed to hospital, where he was picked up by STARS and flown to a hospital in the city for specialized care.
“STARS became the pivotal player in the very first chapter of my recovering from a traumatic event,” he said.
Thirty years later, we reunited Issler with the retired doctor and nurse who flew on his mission.
“Marc was as close to dying as I think any of our patients get,” said Dr. Peter Gant. “And through the expertise of the people at the scene who were able to extricate him, plus the expertise of the individuals at the hospital that helped to stabilize him until we got there, plus all the expertise of the crews and the teams that were brought into play in the city, we were able to salvage his life. He was critically ill.
“It’s fascinating to come back after 30 years to meet a patient who was so seriously injured and to really have had the privilege in potentially having saved his life.”
Deanna Green was Issler’s nurse, and she was beaming throughout their entire reunion visit.
“This is a validation of what trauma care and STARS was all about in its inception,” she said. “This was the reason that it started, and to see Marc now — alive, well, functioning in family and employment, and to have all his faculties — is a pleasure. It’s just a pleasure.”
Issler also couldn’t stop smiling.
“To get to see these people again after three decades,” he paused. “I know what it is they did for me, and to actually hold them tight, to provide a hug, to provide a shaking hand … It’s heartwarming. It’s encouraging.”
What’s more, the intervening 30 years have also seen STARS fly Issler’s brother-in-law and mother.
“We’re three-strong with the STARS use,” he said, “and our thanks goes, again, to them. Thank you.”
Dr. Gant summarized the decades well.
“The ability to be part of STARS for 30 years was a sheer privilege,” he said. “I was able to work with an amazing number of amazing people. When I look back at the personalities that were involved in the AMC (Air Medical Crew), the flight physicians, the support staff, the leaders in industry that helped to make STARS what it is today — every step of the way was a privilege. It’s an amazing organization for what they’ve accomplished over the years that they’ve been in service and the number of lives they’ve touched over that period of time.”