An amazing team of pediatric specialists who travel across the state and even throughout the United States to transport sick and injured children to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital recently reached a major milestone in its history. The Pediatric Transport Team transported its 1,000th patient, a number that represents life-saving care across great distances in just five years.
“It’s incredible to think of the lives our Transport Team has impacted in the span of only five years,” said Shaun Kemmerly, MD, chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. “Transporting 1,000 patients is exceptionally meaningful because that’s 1,000 patients who may not have had access to the appropriate level of care they needed without that service. Our Transport Team should be commended and celebrated for this tremendous accomplishment.”
The Transport Team travels from Baton Rouge to any part of the state to carry patients who are in need of a higher level of care. Depending on the distance, they travel by ambulance, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft to make sure children can receive the critical care they need in an emergency situation.
The team consists of more than 20 specially trained pediatric intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists. They work under the guidance and direction of in-house pediatric critical care physicians.
“The outlying facility doctor who wants to send a patient via transport will call the pediatric transport phone, which is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Kristin Bassett, RN, pediatric transport team nurse. “The transport team mobilizes and we patch in the ER doctor or ICU physician to begin caring for the patient.”
“The next step is calling our partners at Acadian Ambulance and they provide us with the proper ambulance or air craft depending on how far we have to go,” explained Jeffrey Peno, RN, pediatric critical care transport coordinator.
The Transport Team uses specialized equipment originally designed for the U.S. Army to serve as a lifeline for children needing critical care services not available in their own communities. Team members wear specialized flight suits to distinguish themselves and to enhance safety and quality of patient care.
As soon as patients arrive at a referring hospital, they are stabilized and readied for transport. Upon arrival at the hospital, patients are brought to the Emergency Department or Pediatric ICU, where treatment continues.
“We feel like we have truly made an impact on children across the state,” said Dr. Kemmerly. “We’re able to take in critically ill children and begin their treatment before they even arrive, and then transport them here safely to get the special pediatric ICU care that they need.”
“It’s a very special position to be in, and not something everyone is comfortable doing,” said Bassett. “You’re theoretically risking your life every time you go up in a helicopter to save someone else’s life. But when you think about how someone else’s life is better because of it, it’s very rewarding and something I’m proud to do.”
For more information on the Pediatric Transport Team at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, visit ololchildrens.org/pediatric-transport-team.