After completing thousands of life-saving missions, the California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) base in Gilroy marked its 18thanniversary on June 10.
With its home base at the Saint Louise Regional Medical Center just off Highway 101, the helicopter base in Gilroy is known as CALSTAR 2. Calstar, the largest nonprofit air ambulance service on the West Coast, has nine bases in all and covers a diverse area from Santa Barbara to Mendocino to South Lake Tahoe. The company is headquartered at McClellan Park in Sacramento
The Gilroy base is the busiest of all Calstar bases. Its 150 nautical mile range extends from the San Francisco Bay Area to Santa Cruz.
Calstar 2 primarily serves trauma patients and is highly skilled in scene work. Ross Fay, Calstar regional director, notes that all Calstar flight crews are considered to be the “gold standard.” Each crew is made up of a highly experienced pilot and two extensively trained flight nurses. He said about 70 percent of all calls are for trauma scenes.
The other 30 percent of medical flights are inter-facility transports. Utilizing the ultra-modern MD 902 Explorer helicopter, these include the transport of adult, pediatric, obstetrical and neo-natal patients. Inter-facility transports become necessary when a patient is in a local hospital and needs to be moved to a facility with a higher level of care.
Calstar frequently trains with local fire and police departments and other first responders, as well as with local hospitals. Additionally, it frequently participates in community events.
Safety, according to Fay, is the number one priority for Calstar. He notes that the company is now in its 29th year and has completed more than 45,000 flights without a single injury to a patient or crew member.
Being transported in an air ambulance can be a costly proposition– upwards of $25,000. To take the worry out of the financial aspects of being transported, CALSTAR offers a membership program.
For an annual fee of $50 an entire immediate family can become CALSTAR members. If a member is ever transported by CALSTAR or one of its reciprocal partners, the company will accept the patient’s insurance benefits as payment in full. If the patient has no insurance, he/she will never receive a bill.
For more information on the membership program, individuals can call (1-888) 207-LIFE or visit the company’s website at www.calstar.org.