Our History and Accomplishments
Young woman recieving medical attention

Our History & Accomplishments

20 Years of Achievement

Aeromedical: Celebrating 20 Years of Care - Echo Newspaper Excerpt

High Level's own Aeromedical Emergency Services is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. Since 1987, Aeromedical has grown from a three-person team to one of Alberta's busiest air ambulance providers, operating from a 12,000 square foot facility in High Level. Today, Aeromedical covers 75,000 square miles and provides air and ground ambulance services to many of Alberta's most remote communities and industrial establishments. The company has also provided international and cross-Canada medevacs when requested.

The Aeromedical fleet consists of ground ambulances, Mobile Treatment Centres, and support units. Thanks to the Alberta Health Air Ambulance, NorAlta Airlines, and Gemini, Airborne, and Delta helicopters, Aeromedical has the use of a fleet of rotary and fixed-wing air ambulances. Aeromedical also utilizes NorAlta's Cessna Caravan, a unique aircraft capable of carrying eleven passengers and landing on short, rugged runways. This aircraft allows for efficient multiple patient transport when required.

Aeromedical is the only fixed-wing air ambulance medical provider in the province with two bases of operation, including a brand new facility located in Fort Vermilion. They have won the Alberta Ambulance Operators Association's "Ambulance Service of the Year" award, as well as the High Level & District Chamber of Commerce "Business of the Year" Award. Aeromedical is proud of its association with the High Level Fire Department and the co-response program that allows EMS and the Fire Department to work very closely together. This co-response program has improved Emergency Care for the citizens of High Level.

A Community Leader

From the beginning, Aeromedical has been a community-driven organization. For most of the 1990's, Aeromedical founder and CEO Gord Burnell served as mayor of High Level. During his tenure as mayor, Gord played a leading role in the establishment of the Footner Forest Products OSB mill, which is now a major contributor to the region's thriving economy. Aeromedical provided medical services to workers during the construction of the new mill in 2000 and 2001.

Aeromedical is also responsible for the establishment of the Regional Dispatch Centre that handles emergency calls for five ambulance services, five fire departments, and four communities. From 1991 to 2001, Aeromedical held the Alberta Health Air Ambulance Dispatch contract for seven of the province's nine air ambulance bases. The Centre coordinated and dispatched all air ambulances operating in the vast region between Red Deer and the Northwest Territories.

An Industrial Leader

Aeromedical's latest success is the establishment of Aeromedical Industrial Services. This service provides emergency treatment throughout a diverse region that includes remote oil and gas installments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories. The industrial fleet consists of two first aid trailers, two 4x4 industrial ambulances and 14 Mobile Treatment Centres, allowing Aeromedical to provide high quality on-site care to patients working in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the country. During the winter months, Aeromedical stations a helicopter medevac team in Rainbow Lake to serve the region's oil companies.

Serving Our First Nations Communities

Aeromedical Industrial Services is also responsible for providing paramedics to nursing stations located in the remote First Nations communities of Fox Lake, John D'Or, and Garden River. These communities have suffered from recent nursing shortages, and in 2006, Health Canada gave Aeromedical a seven-month trial contract allowing Paramedics to provide advanced medical services in the community nursing stations. The trial was a resounding success, and Health Canada awarded a two-year contract to Aeromedical to continue the program.

At the request of Health Canada, Aeromedical has developed and taught a First Responder program for the community of Assumption. These First Responders are now working within their community in conjunction with Aeromedical to help improve the quality of pre-hospital care. The success of the program has prompted Health Canada to develop plans for its implementation in all other First Nations Communities in the area.

Improving Children's Lives

In the air ambulance field, Aeromedical has been a leader in the care and transport of pediatric and maternity patients in Alberta's Northern communities. Focused staff training and enhanced medical protocols have helped Aeromedical to deal with the particular needs of pregnant women and small children living in remote areas. Aeromedical teams have delivered in excess of 100 babies, several of whom were born in the air, and the company has safely transported many incubated newborns to hospitals around the province.

International Cooperation

The company has also been involved in several international development projects and relief efforts. Aeromedical was invited to attend a national medical congress in Romania, where founder Gord Burnell gave a presentation on air ambulance provision to the Romanian Government. He then toured the Romanian EMS services, developed a program for the Romanian air ambulance system, and made a second trip to Romania to help set up their air ambulance base. Two Romanian EMS professionals were invited to High Level, where they had the opportunity to observe Aeromedical's ambulance service in action and tour the medical facilities and the fire department. Aeromedical also propelled efforts to provide medical and educational supplies to the Romanian EMS system.

Aeromedical has also provided EMS consulting to China and Malaysia. In 2006, Aeromedical sent Paramedics to Sri Lanka to provide medical aid to tsunami victims. This June, Aeromedical will be one of eight companies invited on a Government trade mission to Venezuela and Brazil, where Gord will be consulted about emergency response for offshore oil platforms. The Venezuela Government is particularly interested in Aeromedical's work with remote nursing stations, and they believe this system holds great potential for Venezuela's remote jungle areas.

Next, Aeromedical will be visiting Trinidad. The company has been invited to meet with Trinidad's Minister of Health to provide EMS consulting. Aeromedical will also be providing safety consulting to various companies in Trinidad's offshore oil and gas sector.

Unique Training Opportunities

The company owes much of its success to founder Gord Burnell, former military Search and Rescue Technician and Paratrooper. Gord also spent four years as a Hovercraft Rescue Specialist for the Canadian Coast Guard while working for the B.C. Air Ambulance program. He has completed individual Survival Eco-Challenges in Utah, Borneo, and Papua New Guinea, and enjoys teaching his wilderness survival skills to others. Aeromedical has run occasional survival training courses to teach medics and pilots important backcountry survival skills. Aeromedical also promotes physical fitness and good health among staff members, and maintains staff gymnasium facilities at both of its bases. In addition to these unique training opportunities, Aeromedical is committed to EMS education, and the service is a recognized EMS preceptor for Paramedic and EMT-A students from a variety of colleges across Alberta, including NAIT, SAIT, Portage College, and Augustana University College.

20 Years of Pride

Looking at the company now, in 2007, with its many achievements and unique accomplishments, it is hard to believe that in 1987, Aeromedical was just a fledgling company with a staff of three and an outdated ambulance. Over the last twenty years, Aeromedical has blazed a trail for other services, all the while remaining at the forefront of the industry. The company's long history and continued development prove that Aeromedical is an ambulance service that Alberta's diverse communities can depend on. Aeromedical's commitment to patient care, teamwork, and education points to a bright future and many more decades of excellence in caring for Alberta's people. Gord and Vicki Burnell are very proud of their dedicated staff, past and present, who have served this region and contributed to Aeromedical's success.