It was early in the morning on Valentine’s Day 2013, and RCMP Const. Marcus Hirschfield was looking forward to finishing his general-duty shift so he could be at home with his wife and kids.

He had just finished investigating one crash, but he was about to deal with another—his own.

Hirschfield’s dashboard camera was recording his cruiser’s trek down an icy highway in the dark early-morning hours of Feb. 14 when an oncoming pickup truck suddenly lost control and slid directly into his path. The footage shows there was no time to react.

“I sort of struck him broadside,” said Hirschfield, calmly recalling the moment his life changed forever. “I was trapped in the vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was able to get out, the passenger had been ejected.”

The recording of his radio transmission immediately after the crash reveals he was already thinking of the plight of the other motorists despite his own situation. Two RCMP colleagues ask Hirschfield where he is, to which Hirschfield replies, “I’m just north of (Highway) 627; I think possibly my leg’s broken. Uh, other driver advises his passenger is not okay.”

The other passenger, it turns out, also had a broken leg and would be taken by ground ambulance to the hospital. Hirschfield, though, had shattered his femur and fears of damaging his femoral artery put STARS in the air.

“If that gets hit and taken out then you’re pretty much done for,” said Hirschfield. “The fact that STARS was there and I could fly that way hugely improved my chances of survival. Ground transport would have been a lot more dicey.”

Surgery and rehabilitation followed, and Hirschfield eventually made a full recovery. He’s since become a strong ally for STARS as a Very Important Patient, including making public appearances to promote the STARS Lottery and even walking the runway for a fashion show.

“(That’s) a new experience for me, believe it or not,” he laughed, adding with sincerity that he and his wife have a “standing yes” for STARS.

“If we’re available, we make it happen just as a way to pay back. With STARS—and with Canadian Blood Services as well—the way I see it, I’m always going to be in the red on that ledger, and that’s okay. It’s not something I resent at all. I’m here to have a ledger partially because of STARS, and I’ll do whatever I can to help them however I can.”

The sound-bit regularly delivers hasn’t lost its impact on him.

“This part always gets me choked up,” said Hirschfield, “but, yeah, STARS was there for me when I needed them. God forbid that you ever need them, but if you do they’ll be there for you as well.”