Skip to content

STARS report shows 25 calls to MD of Bighorn area in 2023

“As always, it’s really great to understand what STARS is doing in the MD of Bighorn and for our residents here. It’s very clear that it’s a necessary and vital service that it provides.”

MD OF BIGHORN – STARS Air Ambulance flew 25 missions in 2023 in the MD of Bighorn region, with pickups from within or near Canmore to Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation, according to a report presented to MD council.

The report highlighted the non-profit flies an average of 22 missions per year in the area, based on data collected from 2019 up to March 31, 2024. Of those, 70 per cent were scene calls and 30 per cent were inter-facility transfers.

“As always, it’s really great to understand what STARS is doing in the MD of Bighorn and for our residents here,” said MD of Bighorn Reeve Lisa Rosvold. “It’s very clear that it’s a necessary and vital service that it provides.”

The majority of calls last year were from the Canmore Hospital for critical inter-facility transfers at 11 calls. There were two scene calls registered to the MD with pickups in areas near Canmore, one near Exshaw, four in the Mînî Thnî (Morley) area, six in the surrounding Îyârhe Nakoda First Nation and one near Water Valley.

In 2022, STARS responded to a total of 23 calls tied to the MD of Bighorn, which has been a municipal supporter of the non-profit since 1990.

Information presented to MD council from 2010 to present showed data collected on response calls based on patient postal codes collected at the time STARS response was required.

The data showed 121 area residents have been flown since 2010, with 92 residents picked up within the MD of Bighorn and 29 area residents flown from 16 other locations across Alberta and eastern British Columbia.

The data collected, however, only had rural resident postal codes associated with Mînî Thnî and Canmore, which few MD of Bighorn residents have. Postal codes assigned to hamlets within the MD, like Exshaw, Lac Des Arcs, Harvie Heights and others, would capture more accurate response data for the MD of Bighorn, Rosvold pointed out,

“Are residents from Morley and Canmore considered part of the MD of Bighorn in this?” she asked.

Glenda Farnden, senior municipal relations liaison with STARS, said that for the sake of the report, they are considered part of the MD region.

“But also, the rural residents that have a Canmore postal code, so it is all residents that are within your boundaries, not directly MD of Bighorn residents only,” she said.

Coun. Alice James said much of the eastern portion of the municipal district has a Cochrane postal code but noted it would be less common to find Bighorn residents in the Bow Corridor with a Canmore or other postal code, with each hamlet there having its own.

Rosvold said the report was a bit misleading for this reason.

“I think what would be interesting is if you have the postal codes that are associated with the MD of Bighorn and you just look at those because the Canmore postal codes are not the same as the MD of Bighorn postal codes. So, each hamlet has a postal code and that will help us identify, at least in the Bow Corridor, the residents,” she said.

“When it says MD of Bighorn residents flown by STARS, it makes me feel like there’s been 121 residents from the MD of Bighorn that have been flown by STARS but that headline doesn’t match what you’re presenting.”

Farnden acknowledged the feedback and said there are “lots of quirks to work out.”

She said a similar report made to the MD of Pincher Creek where its fire chief was present revealed the data presented did not capture all STARS missions known to the municipal district.

“We had to go back because the block of postal codes did not include any of the small hamlets, so most likely this is the same occurrence here,” she said.

“I’ll go back and take that back because we’re still working out a lot of things, so if we can dig deeper to have access to every single postal code to every hamlet, then we probably will discover a lot more missions.”

Coun. Jen Smith noted the towns of Canmore and Cochrane will provide a postal office box to surrounding rural residents not living in the communities.

“I know of a few people here in Exshaw who do have Canmore boxes instead of Exshaw, and whether that be renters or whatnot that can’t qualify for an Exshaw box, it does happen. There are a few in Canmore, it would just have to be one very specific postal code, not the whole community of Canmore because they’re their own municipality,” she said.

“I believe it’s the same with our eastern residents where they’re given a specific postal code, so as long as you’re looking at just the one postal code from each of those communities, it might capture it.”

Farnden said STARS will look at better capturing that information in its next annual report to MD council.

A decision report will come to council at its next meeting to determine if the MD will contribute to STARS again in 2024. The non-profit, which is partially funded for its operations by Alberta Health Services, also relies heavily on municipal support and is requesting an annual fixed rate of $4,000.

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks