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Michael Jesso’s Fabulous, Derailed

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I once read “to fly is human but to hover is divine”, and nowhere can that statement be truer than when it comes to being rescued by a helicopter. 

Unfortunately, when the thought of being rescued by a helicopter comes to mind most people think of STARS air ambulance. For Fort McMurray though, that’s not the case.  Despite selling numerous calendars over the years right here in the community,  STARS has never serviced anywhere past Athabasca.  That left the very vulnerable Highway 63 without an air ambulance, remote workplace accidents where ambulances can’t reach, and our region’s vast trail systems for ATV’s open to extensive wait times in medical emergencies.

Paul Spring from Phoenix Heli-Flight recognized this over 30 years ago and took it upon himself to fill that void and save countless lives.

Phoenix launched their Hero Foundation in 2013.  Before 2013, operations had always been limited to daylight hours, (which means in the winter they could only fly till about 2 p.m. in the afternoon) and a minimum level of weather conditions. With the soaring population and level of activity in the region, it became clear that a higher level of service needed to be reached. In 2013 the Local HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization) Foundation was established with the goal of providing 24/7 dedicated medevac helicopter coverage for the region. Night Vision Goggle operations were approved in December 2013, and in July 2014 the Foundation took delivery of a new EC135 T2+ helicopter. Since the dedicated program’s inception over 250 medevac missions have been flown.

This past March saw the very first H.E.R.O. Foundations fundraiser in the Grand Ballroom at Shell Place.  Guests were treated to an East Coast Lobster Party with Chef Michael Smith. Lobsters from Clearwater Seafoods in Halifax were accompanied by some of the most amazing salads I’ve ever tasted.  There were live auctions, Irish Dancers and a live band that took us well into the night. Testimonials from people who wouldn’t have loved ones here today, and testimonials from people whose loved ones didn’t make it drove the message home of just how important this foundation is. The organizers did an exceptional job for their first fundraiser and everyone should look forward to next year’s.

This foundation like all foundations needs your help. With the oil and gas industry, the RMWB,  the Alberta Government and even Paul Spring himself chipping in, this very expensive service still needs a boost from you. It only takes knowing someone or hearing how someone was saved to make you want to donate. If you or your company would like to make a contribution please visit the website below. Watch for next year’s fundraiser and make an office party out of it. You won’t be disappointed.


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