STARS Air Ambulance is known for their life saving work, transporting patients from remote scenes to hospitals for treatment, but a patient’s weight could render them ineligible for transport.

The issue is coming to light after a crash near Morinville over the weekend. STARS was dispatched to the scene to transport a 46-year-old man to hospital, but upon arrival, paramedics determined that he was “too large”. He was rushed to hospital by ground ambulance, where he passed away the next day.

The air ambulance service says 160 kilograms, or 350 pounds is generally considered to be the threshold, but other factors are considered too.

"It's  never just a simple cut off of 160 kilograms, it's the height of the patient, the girth of the patient, and whether we can safely strap them in there."  STARS flight paramedic John Ernst says, “If we can’t do that safely, really, what’s the point?”

Ernst says it’s starting to be more common to see patients that exceed the size or weight limits. Unfortunately, it’s not a problem with an obvious solution, STARS Air Ambulance is a not-for-profit organization, and purchasing a bariatric helicopter would cost millions of dollars.

With files from Dan Grummett