How do you throw a curveball at STARS air medical crew members who are in the middle of helping a badly injured skydiver? Tell them there’s an unresponsive baby alone in a hot car nearby. That extreme challenge faced six teams from each of our six bases during the 2018 STARS Simulation Competition.

“They were outstanding,” said JN Armstrong, STARS’ chief medical officer. “It was humbling to watch. Every single crew did an outstanding job.”

Weather was extremely windy and somewhat chilly, but the simulation called for a belief in the opposite.

“It was a typical spring day in Canada,” said Armstrong. “Cool; very, very windy; 40-knot winds—which added to the stress and the difficulty in the simulation, just like they would have in the real world.”

The judges deliberated for a long time, ultimately declaring the winner to be the duo from Saskatoon: flight nurse Jenny Thorpe and flight paramedic Matthew Hogan.

“My mind is blown,” said Thorpe afterward. “This is just awesome… It’s fun to be tested and pushed, and hats off to everybody for putting themselves out there and winning their bases.”

“It challenged us in the way that we thought it would,” said Hogan, who is also a STARS mobile education leader. “It challenged our communications, it challenged our ability to deal with a few things happening at once and having both an adult and a pediatric patient at the same time that are both quite sick. But that’s what we do in real life, and that’s what we’ve been practicing for the last several months.

And they’ll continue to practice. Winning the competition meant they qualified for the Air Medical Transport Conference competition in October.

It’s all part of an intense focus on training and being ready for whoever needs us next.