Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Review

HEMS – An Alberta Solution

Thank you for visiting Together4Health. The HEMS review process has been concluded and the Final Report is being submitted.

Helicopter air ambulances provide a vital service to Albertans across the province. As we review these services, the HEMS Review Team asked for and received public feedback to ensure that the needs of all Albertans are met in the most effective way possible.

Through a full review of Alberta’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) program we aimed to more clearly define the role of HEMS providers, unify practices and procedures across the province, and determine the most effective funding model.



Since launching the review on November 22, 2019, we received insights from stakeholders across the Province. One of the ways we heard from Albertans was at a HEMS public webinar, held July 16, 2020. If you’d like to view the webinar, please click here.


The engagement period for the HEMS review has now concluded and no new formal engagement activity will be scheduled. The Project team has included the input received in preparing recommendations for Alberta Health relating to standards (aviation and medical), governance (accountability framework) and the affordability/sustainability of HEMS in Alberta.

The review has been completed and the final report is currently being evaluated by senior Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services leadership. We hope to have more information to share soon here on Together4Health.

We continue to welcome Albertans to Ask A Question via the Tool below or email us at HEMSReview@ahs.ca.

HEMS – An Alberta Solution

Thank you for visiting Together4Health. The HEMS review process has been concluded and the Final Report is being submitted.

Helicopter air ambulances provide a vital service to Albertans across the province. As we review these services, the HEMS Review Team asked for and received public feedback to ensure that the needs of all Albertans are met in the most effective way possible.

Through a full review of Alberta’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) program we aimed to more clearly define the role of HEMS providers, unify practices and procedures across the province, and determine the most effective funding model.



Since launching the review on November 22, 2019, we received insights from stakeholders across the Province. One of the ways we heard from Albertans was at a HEMS public webinar, held July 16, 2020. If you’d like to view the webinar, please click here.


The engagement period for the HEMS review has now concluded and no new formal engagement activity will be scheduled. The Project team has included the input received in preparing recommendations for Alberta Health relating to standards (aviation and medical), governance (accountability framework) and the affordability/sustainability of HEMS in Alberta.

The review has been completed and the final report is currently being evaluated by senior Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services leadership. We hope to have more information to share soon here on Together4Health.

We continue to welcome Albertans to Ask A Question via the Tool below or email us at HEMSReview@ahs.ca.

Ask a question

Do you have any questions about the HEMS review?

loader image
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password. Forgot your password? Create a new one now.
  • When can we expect a final outcome from the HEMS review? After Minister Shandro announced a fast track to the review on June 2, 2020....we have not heard anymore. An online hems review mtg was held on July 16, for public participation and a summary of those answers has been sent out to participants. A date was suggested earlier of Sept 30, is that still the goal?

    Chantel Timmons asked about 1 month ago

    Hello and thank you for your question. The review is nearing completion and is currently being discussed with senior Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services leadership. We hope to have more information to share soon here on Together4Health.

  • As STARS is the contracted dispatcher by AHS for helicopter transport situations and is the business of supplying such helicopters for these situations is this not a conflict of interest?

    Doug asked about 2 months ago

    Hello and thank you for your question.   STARS operates the Link Centre, which dispatches helicopters in Alberta, and follows AHS approved provincial dispatch protocols, integrated with AHS dispatch centers. AHS has oversight for all helicopter response in Alberta, and reviews all such dispatches to ensure that the most appropriate resources are being used. 

  • A couple of questions: Over the last number of years STARS has purchased by my estimate roughly, if not in excess of $100,000,000.00 worth of new helicopters alone. Considering the aforementioned and the current economic environment Alberta is facing. Are there other legitimate helicopter operations in the province with the capacity and expertise who through a vetted, fair, bidding process could provide flight crews and helicopters only? Could AHS provide Critical Care paramedics and Dispatching only to an appropriately qualified "Helicopter and crew only" bid winner? Are there other non profit HEMS providers in the province currently who operate with more conservative budgets that provide the same level of service STARS provides?

    Jeff asked 9 months ago

    Thank you for your interest and questions. These are all questions that the HEMS review will address for future governance.

    Currently, HEMS providers in Alberta offer different levels of service, as these services have evolved differently over time.  Affordability, funding and levels of service are included in the HEMS review.


  • As a rural EMS provider I wonder why Stars doctors dispatch HALO instead of EMS.

    Kbuis asked 9 months ago

    Thank you for your interest in the HEMS review and your question about helicopter dispatch.

    Helicopters are dispatched through a provincial process, using response criteria established by AHS. This process includes AHS EMS dispatch, STARS and in some cases the provincial air ambulance Transport Phycians who are employed by STARS. Response criteria and dispatch processes are part of the HEMS review and we appreciate your question.

  • Is cross border partnerships being considered or developed in regards to the provision of services? We have multiple remote communities that have little or no basic services. In the north we are closer to the South Slave region of the NWT than we are to our southern neighbors and partnerships for health and health provisions across the jurisdictional line could/would benefit us all.

    Lisa asked 9 months ago

    Hello and thanks for your questions. Each province and territory are responsible for services in their respective jurisdictions. The HEMS review will focus on Alberta. However, AHS has excellent relationships with our neighboring provinces, and may provide or request assistance from other jurisdictions, including NWT, subject to resource availability. 

  • Does AHS reimburse STARS for inter hospital transfers? Dalyn asked 18 days ago Hello and thanks for visiting the site and for your question. Since 2010, AHS has had an agreement with STARS for HEMS services which, under the current funding model, includes inter-hospital transfers. Asking the SAME questions with regards to HALO?

    Penny asked 10 months ago

    Hello and thanks for visiting the site and for your question.
    Each HEMS provider has a different agreement, as each has evolved differently over time. As we conduct the HEMS review we will be looking at funding models. Currently, HALO is reimbursed for each interfacility transfer while STARS provides interfacility transfers as part of their contract.

  • Why can’t you transfer government funding from STARS to HALO to ensure its operations?

    ACE asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for your question. 

    The Review is looking at funding and during the Review process all existing funding and operations will remain in place.  All helicopter programs are funded differently in Alberta as each program has evolved differently and provides different services.

  • What provision is being made for remote/wilderness situations. e.g. A Search and Rescue team has found a subject in the backcountry and a helicopter is determined to be the best response. What training will the helicopter medical staff have to respond to these situations where the ability to be self-sufficient may be important (There is a review of a situation where two medics almost died in a Coquihalla winter back country response where the helicopter left and could not get back. Has happened in Alberta to a few folks responding away from their ambulance too). Maybe someone with back country response experience should be one of the SMEs.

    Guy Kerr asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for your question.  Search and Rescue activities are out of scope for the HEMS Review.

    AHS EMS coordinates with Search and Rescue agencies, the RCMP and Fire for back country rescues.  EMS does not undertake technical rescue and relies on trained agencies to complete this piece of the rescue transport where EMS cannot directly access a patient.  After the patient is extracted, EMS facilitates the medical transport portion of the coordinated response.


  • As part of the AHS - HEMS review, will the government consider providing adequate and consistent financial support to ensure the helicopter life saving measures and emergency transportation, instead of relying on fund raising efforts?

    Tamara asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for your question.  As we conduct the review, we will be looking at funding models and determining standards to guide us into the future.

  • Does a private company dispatch all hems in Alberta and if so, what company is this?

    Gregory Joseph asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for your question.  Through an affiliation agreement with AHS and in collaboration with AHS EMS dispatch, STARS Link Center is the conduit for dispatching helicopters in Alberta using AHS dispatch criteria.