Emergency responders from Watrous and area along with STARS personnel converged on the STARS landing pad adjacent to Melron Services and the Watrous Hospital for a special information day on Wednesday, June 12.  

The Watrous and Community Awareness Day was hosted by Ron Ediger of Melron Industries and tender of the helipad. Watrous and region residents along with students from the two Watrous schools braved the wind to find out more about the importance of emergency services in the area.  

“We have our local fire department, and STARS brought everything except the helicopter,” said Ediger, surveying the event.” We have the RCMP, the local EMS along with the SGI people for the Safe Ride Home campaign.” 

Barrie Tolmie with STARS aviation operation says events like the Watrous Day are important to provide information and to connect with those who have benefitted by the air ambulance service.  

“This is an amazing event put on by the town to bring out first responders,” said Tolmie. “I’ve actually talked to somebody this morning that we’ve transported from Watrous twice to Saskatoon; his health was such that our services were required.  

It’s also important to provide a fundraising opportunity, said Tolmie 

“The province of Saskatchewan provides half of our funding, $10 million. STARS raises the other half. It’s $21 million to operate both bases in Regina and Saskatoon, so the community support is huge. We rely on it; it’s for the community by the community.” 

Watrous emergency 2.JPG Ron Ediger (centre) with personnel from STARS

STARS is part of a network of responders, many of whom are locally based, and Tolmie gave a shout out to those professionals and volunteers gathered to serve the public at an instant. 

One of those local responders is Jory Van Thuyne, chief of the Watrous and District Fire Department. The department had a contingent of its volunteers out, working with kids and explaining equipment, including some of the latest in brush fire fighting vehicles.  

“They managed to take an F-550 and turn it into a $300,000 fire truck,” Van Thuyne said of the modified brush truck he called the pride of the fleet. The vehicle’s reinforced roll cage and large tires make it an ideal off-road response unit. The unit also tows a modified side by side for even greater mobility.  

Van Thuyne talked about the volunteer membership and their commitment to keeping up to date with equipment and training.  

“We train every second Wednesday with a lot of practical training with some online. It’s very much a learn on the go deal.” 

In terms of the day itself, Van Thuyne is a fan.  

“The looks on the kids' faces is great. They like seeing the lights, the sirens. If you can foster that interest, someday if they decide to stay in town, maybe they’ll join. We’re always needing more people.” 

The responders stand just a call away to provide emergency lifesaving assistance. On June 12, Watrous had a chance to meet some of those faces at the end of the line.  

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