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Maria McMahon, RN, Donny Collins,
EMT-P and Kathleen Dunn, RN, load
up their gear in preparation for transporting a patient. The
team’s supply room is stocked with all the equipment and supplies
necessary to care for pediatric patients during transport.
This includes state-of-the-art medical equipment as well as
a supply of Beanie Babies and snacks.
day, critically ill or injured children are rushed to community
hospitals by Emergency Medical Services and worried parents. When
these children require the advanced specialty care available only
at a tertiary care center, the Children’s
Hospital Transport Team is responsible for getting them to Boston.
Until the late 1990s, transporting patients relied on intensive
care nurses and physicians, taking time away from their duties at
Children’s. In 1998, however, the program was restructured to provide
a dedicated, on-site team. “Over the past six years, the Transport
Program has evolved into a highly organized system that is focused
on quality inter-facility transport services for referring physicians,
patients and families,” says team Medical Director Monica
Each year the team transports approximately 1,400 patients—or about
four patients every day. Patients range in age from premature infants
to young adults, and are referred for a wide variety of medical, cardiac,
neonatal and traumatic conditions. The majority of calls come from
New England hospitals, but the team also provides patient care on
domestic and international flights. (Because of a special relationship
between Children’s and the island of Bermuda, it is not uncommon for
the team to fly to Bermuda several times in a single month.) On
the ground or in the air, the team performs advanced procedures
under the direction of Children’s attending physicians and fellows,
who are in constant contact by radio.
So, exactly how is the Transport Team able to transport patients
so quickly? Emergency referrals are received by Children’s Emergency
Communication Center, located adjacent to the Emergency Department.
Dispatchers triage these calls to the appropriate departments. While
referring physicians are connected with Children’s doctors for medical
consultations, the Transport team is alerted. If a transport is
required, the Team departs while the dispatchers secure a bed for
the incoming patient. Team members stay in constant contact with
Children’s doctors and nurses from the moment they arrive at the
referring facility, and by the time the team arrives back at Children’s,
staff are ready and able to provide the patient with specialty care.