MELFORT — Debbie Sochaski’s life almost ended one summer, and she credits STARS to the reason it didn’t.
Sochaski told her story to the community during the STARS heliport fundraising kick-off in Melfort on Jan. 15.
“June 15, 2016, I was camping and I decided to get sick,” Sochaski told the audience.
At the time, she was camping at Nipawin and District Regional Park. Her neighbours hadn’t seen her come out of her camper for about a day and a half, so they decided to check in on her.
They found her in the hot camper and called an ambulance who took her to the nearest hospital.
Sochaski wasn’t fully aware of what was going on around her, but does remember what the doctor told her that she had.
Sochaski didn’t even believe she could get sepsis.
“I thought, ‘that’s World War I,’” she recalled.
An open heart surgery in her past was to blame for the infection leading to her version of the impossible.
And things weren’t looking good. She needed to be treated in Saskatoon, but the doctors said she wouldn’t survive the trip by ambulance.
“Fifty-one minutes to get me to Saskatoon.”
STARS was the only way she could survive.
Sochaski remembers small flashes, a firefighter, helicopter, a doctor and a name – but nothing else.
Elsewhere in town, her youngest grandson was playing baseball.
“They saw the helicopter land, and he said, ‘where’s nana? She’s always here and she’s always on time.’”
The others reassured him that she must have been busy, but it wasn’t enough to convince him.
“Who would have thought his nana was flying in that helicopter? They look at it different now,” Sochaski said.
“STARS means that my family still has me.”
If there’s one message she wants to get out to the community, she said it’s for each individual to do their part for STARS.
“Do what you can, it may save – it will save a life. Maybe even your own.”
Sochaski was just one speaker at the January event, organized by the Melfort Municipal Health Advocacy Committee to raise donations for a heliport in the city.
The fundraising campaign is expected to be completed on Feb. 29, with a final goal of $600,000 that must be raised before the project can begin.
Donations are being directed to the North Central Healthcare Foundation, their website is nchcf.ca. Additionally, donations can be left at city hall in Melfort as well as the gift shops at Parkland and Melfort hospitals.