Shands rolls out new pediatric ambulance

The $56,000 vehicle will be used solely to transport critically ill children.


ShandsCair workers, from left, Kelly Hernacki, Lynn Drury and Tom Joiner load a gurney during an unveil of ShandsCair's newest ambulance, ShandsCair 8, on Tuesday.

Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 11:23 p.m.

It may have been pouring rain, but Shands chose Tuesday morning to unveil its shiny new pediatric critical care ambulance. It will be designated ShandsCair 8 and is the first such vehicle in Gainesville.

The $56,000 vehicle was purchased with funds from the Children's Miracle Network, according to Margaret Friend of CMN. It will be used solely for the transport of critically ill children and premature infants to Shands at the University of Florida.

For neonatal transport, a special unit can be rolled aboard and plugged in. It is stocked with everything the nursing team needs to care for the tiny babies whose lives are at risk. Neonatal flight nurse Kelly Hernacki said the team makes 40 to 60 such runs each month.

"The equipment is all specialized, all much smaller," Hernacki. "We carry drugs in much smaller volumes, because we transport some babies who only weigh about a pound."

An incubator bed circulates warm air to keep the baby's body temperature stable during the transfer from another hospital to Shands UF.

Smaller IV equipment, resuscitation bags and blood-pressure cuffs are among the child-focused equipment aboard. A Broselow pediatric emergency tape along one wall helps the crew double-check the appropriate dosage of any medications, based on a baby's height and weight.

"There is 24/7 coverage for pediatric calls," Hernacki said. The team also includes a respiratory therapist. The group flew to Boston on Monday for a transfer and has gone as far as California for a highly specialized case that needed to see a Shands specialist.

"You never know what's going happen day to day, or minute to minute," Hernacki said. "It gives you a chance to use your critical thinking skills."

The new vehicle expands the ShandsCair fleet, which includes a helicopter, a fixed-wing jet and three ambulances.

Dr. Michael Weiss is medical director for neonatal and pediatric transport and an associate professor of pediatrics in UF's College of Medicine.

"About 60 percent of our transport to the neonatal intensive care unit comes via ground," Weiss said. "This allows us to keep multiple teams on the road, covering a broader range, but if we needed to get a sick baby rapidly in Jacksonville, we'd fly."

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