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Last updateWed, 14 Feb 2024 9am

Man's near-death experience prompts campaign for STARS

    A Drumheller man is lucky to be alive after suffering a heart attack, and thanks STARS for his survival.
    Now he wants to spread the word of the good work that STARS does, and give back to the service.
    On September 28, Josh Bhikoo a corrections officer at the Drumheller Institution,  was experiencing chest pains. The 31 year old had already been to the hospital earlier that day and learned he had pneumonia. At emergency he could hardly stand.
    “I passed out going into the ER. I hollered out ‘somebody catch me’ because I couldn’t breathe,” said Bhikoo. “When  I woke up on the trauma bed, there were five doctors; two EMTs and two nurses.”
    When the doctors told him he had a heart attack. He couldn’t believe it. The relatively young man was in otherwise good health. He had quit smoking and last year the avid cyclist had put about 8,000 kilometres on his road bike.
    The doctors mulled over the decision as to whether to send him to a Calgary hospital by ground transport, or by air.  The decision was to fly, and Bhikoo learned later that decision saved his life. If he had arrived 20 minutes later in Calgary, he would not have survived.
    He was put  to sleep for the flight, and didn’t wake up for 10 days. He was rushed right into surgery upon arrival at 3 a.m. They did an angioplasty and put a stent in his heart.
    He was on life support for the nine days following the surgery. He had gained and lost about 40 pounds of fluid through the ordeal.
    His recovery since then has been remarkable, but he says there is still a long way to go.    
    Within a day of waking up, he was back on his feet. Today, just a month since he was admitted, he is back driving and by appearances, he looks healthy.
    He admits that he is still weak, and is winded at climbing a flight of stairs. He probably won’t be back at work for a year, and it won’t be until next season he is back on his bike.
    “When I arrived home on the 20th (October), I was walking into my house and STARS was flying over taking somebody else,” said Bhikoo.
    He says he received great support from the community while he was in the hospital.
    “One thing that blows my mind is the community in Drumheller. I was almost finished building my fence when I went in, and my neighbours finished it. They did all of my yard work, people came in and cleaned the house,” said Bhikoo. “The Drumheller community is like family and that’s why I want to bring the Red Ring for Life to them.”
    Bhikoo wants to give back to STARS for saving his life and he would like to encourage the community to join him.
    He is getting behind the Red Ring of Life Campaign for STARS.
    The Red Ring Campaign was launched in 2010. Supporters can purchase the stainless steel ring with the bright red band for $5 per month, or  $60 for a year. The rings are available online or locally at Fountain Tire. Every dollar from the purchase of the rings goes to STARS.
    He says it cost about $1 per second for STARS to fly, and the mission that saved him, he was told cost in the area of $14,000. Each ring represents a minute of flight. An average flight costs about $5,400.
    He would like to raise awareness of the campaign. He went to Fountain Tire in Drumheller to buy a ring, they opened the box for him.    
    He wants to sell the box out.
    “I want to pay it back, I want Drumheller to step up because it is a life saving force,” said Bhikoo, “and I know Drumheller will once they know it is out there.”
    “Without it I wouldn’t be here.”

Christmas wish list filled

    The last packages are bundled and left the post office, scraps of wrapping paper and empty rolls of packing tape have been thrown in the trash,    Christmas is on the way to about 150 children and their families on the small Island of Roatan.
    The annual Morgan Jayne Project Christmas Appeal to fill a wish list for children, who have little more than wishes, has been filled. Volunteers have worked feverishly to ship 154 boxes of gifts, totalling two and half tons, almost twice as many as last year.
    “I am actually sitting here, kind of shaking, I am overwhelmed,” said Fred Makowecki of the Morgan Jayne roject. “To double it this year makes me think, how did that just happen? It blows my mind.” 
    With the extra boxes comes the extra expense to ship the items, including landing fees on the other end. The support for the project was overwhelming, as was the monetary support for the dozens that chipped in for the shipping.
    After the first boxes were sent, Makowecki could see they were going to need a fair chunk of money to cover the shipping. It continued to add up, but so did the support. The drive was on last week, and a number of local individuals and businesses came through.
    Despite this they were still short some funds for shipping, and Makowecki personally covered the shortfall for the shipping. While he would still appreciate support for some of the shipping expenses, he said this year was a complete success.
    “I can’t believe it, the support this year was so amazing. People I never met before, there are so many people that stepped up,” said Makowecki. “If the whole world was like Drumheller, we would have no problems.”

Standard man arrested for assault

    On  Sunday, October 30 at approximately 1 a.m., Strathmore RCMP responded to a complaint of a break and enter to a dwelling in the community of Standard.
    The investigation revealed that two males were involved in an altercation at the Standard bar earlier in the night with both eventually going their separate ways. One male returned to his home and fell asleep on his couch.
    The other individual from the earlier altercation attended this residence, entered it without permission and attacked the occupant once again as he slept.
    The victim was taken to Strathmore Hospital for treatment of serious but non life-threatening injuries. The accused in this matter is also alleged to have assaulted another male in front of the Standard bar earlier the same evening.  The accused and the victims are known to each other.
    As a result of the investigation, Charles Martin Gerard, 31, from Standard, has been charged with break and enter into a dwelling house and committing an assault causing bodily harm.  He is charged with a second count of assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
    If you see or know the location of this individual or if anyone has any other information regarding this matter, please contact the Strathmore RCMP detachment at (403) 934-3968 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


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