STAR Flight (Shock Trauma Air Rescue) is a unique public safety air rescue program that performs everything from the transport of critically ill patients to firefighting, rescue to law enforcement. Based in Austin, Texas, STAR Flight is funded to protect and serve the citizens of Travis County, but also serves 19 other counties within the Central Texas area. STAR Flight’s responds to people experiencing medical problems such as heart attacks or strokes or suffering from traumatic injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents or recreational activities. We also regularly respond to requests from rural hospitals to transport patients who require a higher level or specialized care.
As part of the EMS response, STAR Flight is dispatched through the same 911 system as other ambulances and fire equipment and is frequently dispatched at the same time. We are utilized within the Travis County system as a first-response Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance. If a call is triaged through our dispatch center as a high priority medical request, and it is estimated that an ambulance will take longer than 20 minutes to arrive on scene, STAR Flight may be automatically dispatched directly to the scene. This differs from most air programs in the country that are not requested until after an emergency unit arrives on scene and determines that a helicopter is needed. Our liftoff times average between 4-8 minutes. It is Travis County's goal to have an ALS-trained responder to the side of every patient within 20 minutes of receiving the call for assistance.
Travis County, as well as the Texas Hill Country, presents many unique challenges for EMS and rescue crews. Commonly referred to as “Flash Flood Alley” due to the swift and severe nature of deadly flash flooding events, it holds distinction as the number one area in the nation for flash flood rescues. There are also several large lakes and rivers very popular for boating and water recreation. Access is often difficult and remote. The ability to rapidly locate the scene and deploy highly trained medical personnel directly to the scene, whether in or out of the water, has proven to be a lifesaver for many residents and visitors to Travis County’s lakes.
STAR Flight also trains its personnel to operate safely and competently extricate patients from high hazard environments, including cliffs, still and swift water. All of our medical crews spend hundreds of hours training each year to treat and rescue people from these austere environments. STAR Flight rescuers can access a patient directly from the air via hoist and initiate advanced medical care and package the patient. Our program is founded on principles of flexibility and versatility – on expert care in any environment.