Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Retiring STARS Air Ambulance helicopter makes farewell visit to Lethbridge

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A helicopter, that’s been part of the STARS Air Ambulance fleet for more than 30 years, made a farewell trip to Lethbridge Wednesday.

The BK117 is being phased out by the new H145s – a similar model but much newer and with more advanced technology.

Chief Executive Officer, Mike Lamacchia says it comes with autopilot, terrain warning systems, more safety features and an advanced medical interior.

Lethbridge’s Kelly Waldron was the first STARS patient back in 1985. Her and her twin brother, Travis, were born more than two months premature and Kelly was flown by the BK117 to Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

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The first new H145 in the fleet honours Waldron’s place in STARS history by bearing the official registration mark “C-GKLY” a nod to her first name.

Lamacchia says Lethbridge is the busiest site in Alberta for STARS with the air ambulance frequenting the community, on average, once a week.

The BK117 flew into Lethbridge Wednesday morning as part of a donor appreciation event being held at the Sandman Signature Lodge on Scenic Drive.


STARS BK117 helicopter. Photo Credit (Tina Karst)

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Tina Karst

A Lethbridge College alumnus, Tina moved back to the community two years after convocation, in September 2007, to become a member of the CJOC News Team. She started as a weekend reporter/anchor and now serves as Associate News Director. When Tina’s not tracking down local news, she’s either busy at home with Jordan and their two kids or creating custom macrame pieces for a growing list of clients.

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