After some discussions in the Cypress County council chambers at the last council meeting on Oct. 16, county council voted to step up and advocate for HALO in hopes of finding some stable funding for the medical helicopter service.
It was for the next week after that, that the county has some productive conversations with MLAs in the south to reinforce the importance of HALO and its role in the region.
“Those conversations led to some additional meetings between those MLAs and the board of HALO,” said Cypress County Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit.
“Thankfully we were excited to hear on Tuesday that the board of HALO was able to come to terms with Les Little and Rangeland Helicopters with regards to moving forward into 2020. We’re excited about that because it gives us another year of stability knowing that HALO is not going anywhere.
Kurpjuweit says this will now provide the opportunity to assess the existing provincial budget and work with the province, HALO and other municipalities that are affected by the service to come up with a program that gives the air ambulance the support they need.
“Something that has been missing in that relationship has been a long-term provincial component to the support,” he said.
“STARS gets it. Heros up in the north has a contribution as well. We know that Alberta Health Services is looking at the helicopters and the medievac component of their budget. In the month’s to come we look forward to being able to have continued conversations with the province and HALO may fit in with the bigger vision of the province and the delivery.”
Paul Carolan, HALO manager, says the service has taken huge steps in the last year.
“We have taken a huge step forward this past year with addition of our twin engine helicopter and are excited by how much more we can do with our delivery of service and time savings when every minute counts,” said Carolan.
“It has had budget implications that have been difficult to adjust to but following this past week, we are optimistic that we have the support of the local municipalities and provincial government and look forward to creating stronger relationships with them moving forward.”
The BK-117 helicopter increased HALO’s budget to $2.6 million but left the medical helicopter service $750,000 short prior to their agreement expiring on Oct. 1.
HALO was left off of the UCP government’s recent budget announcement last week.