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New intensive-care ambulance to transport babies, children

Left to right, Brian Lowe, Tammy Bleak and Darren Davis show the new specially designed ambulance.
Left to right, Brian Lowe, Tammy Bleak and Darren Davis show the new specially designed ambulance.
Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

Gold Cross Ambulance, LifeFlight and Primary Children's Medical Center now have a specially equipped ambulance to transport critically ill or injured babies and children.

The intensive-care ambulance, specially designed by Gold Cross and LifeFlight, focuses on enhanced safety during transport for both the patient and the rescue crew, according to Pam Moore, nurse manager of LifeFlight's children's services. It will be headquartered full time at the children's hospital on the University of Utah upper campus.

The new amenities include a better-designed space for neonatal incubators, including heart and lung monitoring, ventilators, infusion pumps and other specialized equipment. Premature babies born in other hospitals who are being transported to Primary Children's now have all the latest lifesaving equipment on board.

It also has some real benefits for rescue crew members, Moore said, including padded corners, captains' chairs with seatbelts, rather than benches, a special gurney that is powered to reduce strain on crew members' backs and more. The babies they transport may weigh just a few pounds, but the incubator and other equipment can exceed 230 pounds, so the latter is important, she said.

The patient-care area also has been bolstered to make it more crash-worthy.

And the ambulance itself is heavier and more safe, according to Mike Moffitt, senior vice president of Gold Cross Ambulance. Because of its air-ride suspension and anti-vibration equipment, it offers the smoothest ride possible for its young passengers.

It operates in a wide radius, so little patients can be ground transported from St. George to Idaho, Evanston to Tooele. For those needing to come from farther away or more quickly, LifeFlight's fixed-wing airplane or helicopters are used.

About 2,000 critically ill young patients are transported each year, about half of them by ground ambulance with LifeFlight crew of two nurses or a nurse and respiratory therapist, Moore said. LifeFlight has several teams dedicated strictly to young patients, including a 15-member pediatric and 12-member neonatal team stationed out of Primary Children's and a 10-member neonatal team at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.