While the HEMS Report released in June of 2021 caused some uncertainty for the future of area air ambulance services such as Southern Alberta’s HALO, nothing has come of it yet, said HALO CEO Paul Carolan.
“The 11 recommendations in the report were just that,” said Carolan. “The Minister at the time made it clear that the recommendations were just recommendations and they didn’t know which ones they would be implementing. Obviously, there’s been a change in the Minister of Health since that time and I believe Minister Copping is doing everything he can to get up to speed on all of the files within that portfolio. We understand that the COVID is the clear focus at the moment. At the moment, the recommendations based on the HEMS reviewer are sort of on hold as far as that’s concerned, with everybody so focused on what’s happening with the pandemic and the demand on the healthcare system.”
The report has fortunately not effected any fundraising efforts, said Carolan, and HALO is “in a great position financially.”
“We’re as secure as we’ve ever been, and we have full intentions to continue to serve this part of the province for years to come,” said Carolan. “So if any questions have come up from corporate individuals or or personal people that are donating or regional municipalities, they’ve been very accepting of our response to them. HALO, in spite of whatever the results of the final recommendations that are implemented, has full intentions of being part of southern Alberta and continuing to provide high level service to the people that live and work and play in this part of the province.”
Due to the re-introduction of stricter COVID-19 guidelines, several in person fundraising events have had to be cancelled, which removes one of HALO’s best opportunities to illustrate who they are and what donors would be funding, said Carolan.
However, HALO is in the process of diversifying their funding, and has seen success with initiatives such as their Cash Calendar and the HALO Grow Crop, which is approaching its third year.
“HALO Grow Crop is really one of those grassroots, passion driven initiatives to help connect us to the farming and ranching community that we serve,” said Carolan. ” and, and also allows us to be really connected to the community in a way that isn’t always possible in other fundraising initiatives.”
The Grow Crop is a total of 130 acres of land provided by partners, in which the crops grown in that land are sold and all proceeds go towards the continued operation of HALO. Though the originally planned Harvest Breakfast was cancelled, Carolan hopes to see it make a return next year alongside the new “adopt an acre” aspect of the program.
Over the course of the three years the program has been in operation, it’s raised approximately $150,000, said Carolan, even with the difficulty surrounding this year’s harvest due to the unusually high temperatures and low precipitation.
“It’s really unique. And hopefully COVID allows it, but we’re looking forward to give a harvest breakfast in 2022, where we can actually take the helicopter out and get some pictures from the air of harvest actually taking place,” said Carolan. “We try to make those things as interactive as possible. We still believe in taking the helicopter to public relations events, and getting people a chance to see what they’re supporting, we think that’s incredibly important to making sure that everybody that does support HALO and wants to be a part of the program, understands what what they’re doing, and why it’s so important that they continue. Whenever possible, we try to incorporate that kind of public relations piece into these fundraising initiatives, and just keep the story going. So we’re looking forward to it again, as long as COVID allows us to have those kinds of in person events, you know, for fundraising initiatives like HALO grow crops, and making sure that people get a really, really a sense of what they’re contributing.”