When emergencies arise, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s LifeFlight program is prepared and ready to transport the most fragile and critically ill children to the hospital’s main campus for advanced care.
The LifeFlight program at Nicklaus Children’s is responsible for safely transporting more than 3,000 children each year from other hospitals in Florida as well as referring hospitals throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The hospital’s recent name change to Nicklaus Children’s, in honor of a generous pledge from the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, provided an opportunity to not only change the branding and appearance of the vehicles but also to incorporate the latest advances in technology to benefit the children in the hospital’s care.
“The LifeFlight team was empowered to provide input on every detail, from where electrical outlets should be placed for ease of access to choice of specific technology. This was a staff-driven effort that will ultimately enhance the care environment for all,” said Christopher Williams, interim director of LifeFlight at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
The robust transport fleet, which includes six ambulances and a hospital-owned helicopter operated by PHI, now features a child-friendly design complete with a heart and teddy bear graphic to mimic the hospital’s new logo. The LifeFlight program also contracts fixed-winged services as needed from multiple medical fixed-wing providers within South Florida.
But beyond the whimsical designs are lifesaving enhancements made possible by newly available technology.
The enhancements include:
• A hydraulic system capable of lifting up to 700 pounds (used to easily move stretchers and equipment in and out of the ambulances);
• Five point safety harnesses for all who ride in the ambulance;
• An apparatus for securely mounting a full-body hypothermia system (typically used for neonates);
• A dedicated blanket warmer for each Critical Care unit;
• An intercom system to facilitate communication between the care teams and the driver;
• A permanent medical refrigerator to keep IV fluids, breast milk and medications at optimal temperatures during transport;
• One ambulance of wide width capable of transporting multiple stretchers/isolettes in order to decrease response time from the same pickup location;
• A DVD player for travel entertainment, which can serve as a necessary distraction for children when traveling long distance, and
• The new ambulances provide a camera system with a 360 degree view around the exterior to help negate blind spots.
The hospital-owned helicopter was also redesigned and will be outfitted with a flight data recorder, as recently mandated by the FAA.
“These enhancements are something that the team has been looking forward to for quite a while. We are grateful for the opportunity to enhance the care environment in order to provide optimal service to the patients and families we serve,” Williams said.
LifeFlight recently celebrated the new fleet during National EMS week, which took place May 15-20, with a weeklong event titled “We are called to Serve” which honored EMS professionals in the community.
LifeFlight is ready to provide transport care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information, visit nicklauschildrens.org or call 1-888-LIFEFLT (543-3358).