Air Ambulance service turns 75

Dan Knisley is a pilot with Saskatchewan Air Ambulance. The service turns 75 this year. Photo courtesy Government of Saskatchewan

The province’s air ambulance service is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Saskatchewan Air Ambulance is the oldest, non-military, government air ambulance in the world, the province said in a press release Monday.

It flies people inside and outside the province so they can receive the appropriate care they need.

To celebrate the service’s 75th anniversary, the province is featuring videos, photos and stories on and social media accounts this week.

 The stories, the government said, give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into people who keep Saskatchewan Air Ambulance flying.

“Saskatchewan Air Ambulance provides a critical service for the people of the province,” SaskBuilds and Procurement Minister Jim Reiter said in a press release.

 “It has a unique and rich history dating back to 1946 and is a lifeline for all corners of Saskatchewan.”

In its 75 years of operating, Saskatchewan Air Ambulance has transported more than 71,000 patients and averages about 110 flights per month. Two out of three patient trips are triaged as urgent or emergent requiring critical care, meaning they are for the highest-need patients when the air ambulance arrives.

Medical crews are experienced and highly trained, able to provide critical care for all patients.

The service boasts more than 70 pilots, aircraft engineers, flight nurses, flight paramedics and administrative staff. The service can transport critical patients in northern communities to handling facility transfers for high-risk patients.

Unlike STARS, Saskatchewan Air Ambulance flies King Air 200 planes, which can travel at 500 km/h in all weather conditions anywhere in the province without refuelling. The service was established when trains ran on limited schedules, highways were rough and winters meant total isolation during emergencies.

The service is available 24 hours a day and services the entire province from their Saskatoon International Airport base. Their four planes are on call and able to fly anywhere in North America.

Frequent patients of the planes are the province’s youngest citizens.

Air Ambulance also works closely with the neonatal transport teams in Regina and Saskatoon and the pediatric transport team in Saskatoon,” the province wrote.

“In 1948, the first baby was delivered aboard an Air Ambulance plane between Rose Valley and Wadena. The family was so thankful, they named their baby boy after the pilot who was flying the aircraft.”

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