Saturday, July 26, 2014

All-female Grande Prairie STARS crew flaunts a little gender pride with selfie

From Calgary Sun:

STARS Deb Wnuk Kelly Holt Jen Thiel Karen Coulter
Left to right: Deb Wnuk, paramedic, Kelly Holt, nurse, Jen Thiel, pilot, Karen Coulter, pilot, of STARS Air Ambulance. Supplied photo.
It was to be a girls’ flight out.

And the four-woman team couldn’t resist snapping a multi-selfie of one of the rare occasions an entire STARS air ambulance helicopter crew was female, said pilot Karen Coulter.

“It doesn’t happen all that often, not that we don’t enjoy working with our male counterparts,” said Coulter, 43, who’s been flying for 13 years.

“It’s just nice for us to see that we have so many females in the industry.”

The Grande Prairie crew boasts another woman pilot, one who’s on maternity leave, she added.
On Thursday, the four crew members — paramedic Deb Wnuk, nurse Kelly Holt and pilots Coulter and Jen Thiel — were together again as their work schedule dictates.

But bad weather prevented them from responding to a motor vehicle accident at Valleyview and what sounded like a severe bee sting reaction near McLennan.

That could be a typical day aloft for any STARS crew, regardless of gender, said Coulter who shares her gender with her boss, STARS President Andrea Robertson.

“The conversations are different,” she said.

Dealing with difficult calls, particularly those involving children, impact both male and female crews hard, “though the men are usually more stoic,” said Coulter.

Of STARS’ aviation and medical staff, 30% are female, with four women pilots — three quarters of the latter based in Grande Prairie.

STARS officials say there are fewer than 100 female helicopter pilots in Canada.

While the complexion of STARS personnel is continually evolving, some traditions remain the same.

“One of the male pilots brought us bouquets of flowers on Wednesday,” said Coulter.

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