STAR Flight past and present

Incredible video shows a day in the life of STAR Flight from firefighting, to search and rescue, to EMS services.
FOX 7 takes a look at how the program has evolved since 1985 and what you can expect in the near future.

Spanning 30 years, Travis County STAR Flight is known as one of the most unique programs in Texas.

"That same level of care that we provide to patients from accident scenes or heart attacks, we provide to patients in difficult to access environments. So the helicopter is configured with a hoist, rescue hoist, so we can insert rescuers to the patients' side. We start the care at that point and then extract them with the helicopter if necessary," says Travis County STAR Flight Program Director Casey Ping.

They've had to do a lot of that lately over in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. This summer there were at least three deaths there and several people injured related to falling, drowning and dehydration. Responding to situations like this is why STAR Flight first began.

"It began really as an ambulance for Travis County. It was a very rural county at the time, separated by a lake, with difficult to get to places. It was originally thought to be a really low call volume. So opposed to six to eight ground ambulances, the commissioner's court decided to do it with a helicopter," says Ping.

Then in 1990 the county bought the first big twin-engine helicopter, which gave STAR Flight firefighting capabilities for the first time.

"Very large helicopter, could take up to four patients," says Ping.

Fast forward to 2006 and you get what is used today: three EC145's. It's the primary helicopter people see during critical situations, with night vision and rescue hoist capability. They also have one Huey helicopter that is used solely for firefighting.

"Each one of those things are milestones that have kind of dramatically changed the program and we wonder, how did we ever do it before we had some of this stuff?" says Ping.

One aircraft is currently used 24-hours but STAR Flight is hoping to get another one approved come September. told it would help with flooding, which has gotten worse in Central Texas over the past few years.

"Right now when we have overnight flooding, we're bringing crews in on over-time to try to meet that demand. So we would automatically have two 24-hour aircraft that would reduce our demand on our staff, yet still be able to provide resources to the community," says Ping.

In two years from now, you could possibly see a new fleet take to the sky. It's expected that they would carry more, fly farther and have the latest technology.