The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) helicopter and medical crew are back in Manitoba to provide emergency response during the expected spring flooding.

"The unique ability of a helicopter to provide rapid response to emergencies and transport patients for a faster arrival at Manitoba's medical centres of excellence was proven in 2009 when life-saving missions were attributed to STARS," Premier Greg Selinger said Friday at Winnipeg's James A. Richardson International Airport.

"This year, the STARS aircraft and expert medical crew will be equipped with night vision to allow response around the clock."

'This year, the STARS aircraft and expert medical crew will be equipped with night vision to allow response around the clock.' —Premier Greg Selinger

STARS, a charitable, non-profit organization, is based in Alberta and has been operating in Calgary since 1985 and Edmonton since 1991. The company provides emergency transport to critically ill and injured patients in Alberta and southeastern British Columbia.

Their air ambulance is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a crew that includes two pilots, a flight paramedic and flight nurse with critical-care skills.

"They showed us a helicopter where they can do pretty much any sort of medical response, short of major surgery," said CBC News reporter Wab Kinew.

"They can put tubes in, they can open up a person's chest if need be. This is the same team that was here in 2009 when they responded to 24 different emergencies and treated 17 different Manitoba patients, including one boy in western Manitoba at a Hutterite colony who was in danger of drowning."

The crew will be on the job as of Saturday morning at 7 a.m.

The Manitoba government has committed to the establishment of its own helicopter medical response program.

The eight team members must still go through training and will then be on call for any emergencies.

"While having the STARS helicopter here for the spring will help ensure continued medical response during the flood, it will also allow us to accelerate the development of our permanent helicopter ambulance program in Manitoba," said Health Minister Theresa Oswald.