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Dr. Greg Powell reflects on his commitment to providing critical care 

In recognition of his accomplishments, Dr. Greg Powell, co-founder of STARS, has been awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence (AOE), the highest honour the Province of Alberta can bestow on a citizen. 

“There’s a surreal sense of ‘how did this happen to me?’ ” said Dr. Powell. “It triggers huge feelings of humility and gratitude to the people who were committed to get something done. I’m blessed to be the person who gets to receive this award on behalf of that group of people.”  

Dr. Powell was quick to recognize the role Albertans played in this award. “STARS has always been focused on community ownership,” he said. “I hope this award demonstrates to the citizens of Alberta that they’re a part of the success of STARS.”  

But it’s not only about STARS. 

STARS is the most recognizable,” added Dr. Powell. “I’m also extremely proud that we worked with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons to establish emergency medicine as a distinct discipline of medicine locally, nationally and internationally.” 

Dr. Powell remembers being one of the first examiners for the emergency medicine board exams. “We weren’t board certified because the exam didn’t exist. We had to build and develop the exam and then evaluate it for the first group. We wrote it ourselves the next year — we all hoped we wouldn’t fail.” 

Dr. Powell’s wife, Linda, who is a STARS ambassador, has been by his side every step of the way. “I’m really proud that Greg is being recognized,” she said. “Our hearts burst with pride to see what STARS and emergency medicine are doing throughout the pandemic. The level of skill and competence the teams are contributing to the fight against COVID-19 — that takes time to grow and develop — and Greg was part of creating that.” 

Both often return to the motivation that started it all, “It’s pretty special to have people come up and say, ‘You saved someone in my family’s life. Thank you for your vision.’ It all comes down to that,” said Dr. Powell. 

Dr. Powell’s exemplary and notable career of leadership and innovation spans 40 years in the field of emergency and aviation medicine, education and research. In 2006, he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian award. Additional significant awards include: Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (2018); Honorary Baccalaureate Degree, SAIT, Business Administration (2017); naming of Foothills Medical Centre helipad, Calgary as the Dr. Greg Powell Helipad (2015); Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) and one of Alberta’s One Hundred Physicians of the Century (2006).