- GA 10
- Secondary Agency
The Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service was established in 1945 by the Canadian Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government. The service was introduced to provide rapid transportation in medical emergencies for a province with poor roads, severe weather conditions, few hospitals outside Regina and Saskatoon and almost no rural airfields at the time. In November 1945, a Norseman aircraft was purchased, licensed and fitted for basic medical needs. The Service established a base in Regina and assembled a crew consisting of a pilot, aircraft engineer and flight nurse. The inaugural flight occurred on February 3, 1946, when a diabetic female patient was transported from Liberty to Regina. The pilot landed the aircraft 100 yards from the patient's home and had to take off in moderately deep snow.
The increased demand for the Air Ambulance Service in the 1940's and 1950's resulted in additional aircraft and personnel. In 1950 a second base was established in Saskatoon to serve northern residents more effectively. On September 25, 1958, the Service carried its 10,000th patient. A decline in the demand for the Service began in the 1970's due to better road conditions, an improved road ambulance system and the establishment of more medical centers throughout the province.
A review and update of the Service in the early 1990's led to a major upgrading of medical equipment, the development of new medical and nursing protocols and the provision of an aeromedical training program for pilots and attending staff. In 1993 paramedics became part of the critical care team. As of 2005, the Service, known as Lifeguard, was based in Saskatoon with a backup aircraft stationed in Regina. Lifeguard remains the oldest non-military air ambulance program in the world.
The Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service was administered by the Department of Public Health from 1945 until September 1, 1966, when responsibility for staff, aircraft and equipment was transferred to the Department of Public Works. The Department of Public Health negotiated the level of service with Public Works and continued to handle the daily administration. In 1993, responsibility for staffing and training was assumed by St. Paul's Hospital, an affiliate of Saskatoon Health District. Saskatchewan Health continued to fund the program and Saskatchewan Property Management Corporation (SPMC) maintained the aircraft. This arrangement between Saskatchewan Health and Saskatchewan Property Management remains in place as of 2005.