Critically ill and injured infants and children throughout the southeastern US now have expanded access to the paediatric care of Wolfson Children's Hospital of Jacksonville, Florida, through a new Kids Kare helicopter operated by Air Methods. The helicopter, a Bell 407GX, is the latest addition to Wolfson's critical care transport fleet, is dedicated solely to infants and children, staffed with a highly trained clinical flight crew, and has advanced medical capabilities. Along with Kids Kare mobile intensive care units and a fixed wing aircraft that are part of the transport fleet, the new helicopter is being used for interfacility transport to bring patients from other hospitals in the region to Wolfson.
The Kids Kare helicopter carries paediatric-specific medical equipment for advanced life support, including: advanced monitoring; defibrillator/pacemaker capability; advanced airway management equipment; isolette for newborns to regulate body temperature; and nitric oxide.
The helicopter is fully equipped with all medications and supplies needed to treat a critically ill or injured infant or child during transport. The helicopter also includes a satellite phone to ensure constant communication between the crew and paediatric physician specialists at Wolfson's during transport. It is staffed 24/7 by a Wolfson crew consisting of a neonatal/paediatric transport-certified respiratory therapist, a neonatal/paediatric transport-certified registered nurse and a pilot.
With the addition of the Kids Kare helicopter, Wolfson's critical care transport fleet is now comprised of a dedicated helicopter, fixed-wing airplane and three Kids Kare mobile ICUs.
“The impact of the lifesaving care offered through our partnership with Wolfson Children's and Baptist Health cannot be overstated,” says Trevor Hicks, regional business manager with Air Methods. “When children and infants require urgent care, seconds can impact outcomes. Air medical services mean that these young patients are transported quickly to the children's hospital that can serve them best and where they will receive the best prehospital care available.”
Amanda Kellum, director of the Kids Kare critical care and trauma transport programme at Wolfson Children's Hospital of Jacksonville, says: “Our transport fleet currently serves more than 1,800 infants and children every year, and with this new helicopter, our crucial services are even more accessible to children and families from throughout the north Florida and south Georgia areas.”
“As the region's only state-designated paediatric trauma centre, we are committed to caring for the most vulnerable children of all ages,” adds Wolfson Children's Hospital president Michael D. Aubin. “Our paediatric specialists are experts in their fields and are trained to provide life-saving care for even the most serious and complex cases.”
Wolfson Children's Hospital is part of Baptist Health, the region's most comprehensive health care provider. Air Methods, a leading air medical service provider in the US, provides the aircraft and aviation services for Life Flight, the fleet of helicopters deployed by Baptist Health. Life Flight celebrated its 40th anniversary this past August.
Life Flight and the Wolfson Children's helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft and mobile ICUs adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols for every transport, including full personal protective equipment for crews and decontamination of the aircraft and vehicles after every transport.