by Jessica Pasley
With the addition of a specially designed new ambulance, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is now the first pediatric transport team in the state to offer ECMO transport for its patients.
The new ambulance, Angel 7, is the sixth in the hospital’s fleet. Employees are invited to tour Angel 7 on Tuesday, May 23, to help celebrate EMS week. The ambulance will be located in front of Monroe Carell from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“This ambulance will be a fantastic addition for Monroe Carell to be able to safely transport any age patient, especially critical patients such as those on ECMO,” said Sarah Harmon, MSN, RN, CCRN, manager of Neonatal and Pediatric Transport at Monroe Carell. “By adding an additional ambulance to our fleet, it supports our growing Neonatal and Pediatric Transport team and allows them to deliver a high level of care to our patients sooner and throughout transport.”
While the newest ambulance will be outfitted for ECMO transport, it will also be utilized for critical care patient transfers.
ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a life-sustaining mechanical system that temporarily takes over for the heart and lungs of critically ill patients, allowing their organs to rest and recover by removing carbon dioxide from the blood, replacing it with lifesaving oxygen, and returning it to the patient’s circulatory system.
The technology was first introduced at Vanderbilt in 1989, making it the first ECMO program in Tennessee and propelling it to one of the largest and most successful programs in the world.
Advancements have allowed for smaller, transportable pumps that are compatible to an ambulance. The care team consists of two ECMO specialists, a transport nurse, transport respiratory therapist, an advanced EMT and a physician.
“This ambulance is big enough to accommodate the entire care team as well as have optimal space to work,” said Harmon. “We are building our fleet, and it’s important that we add this new ambulance to help keep our teams on the road, updated on the most advanced protocols and providing optimal service.”
The single-patient ambulance is equipped with two 50-gallon fuel tanks to assist with longer distances, negating the need to stop to refuel.
The additional fueling capacity will also assist in the team’s efforts to provide services to patients outside of the regular catchment area.
“As the largest pediatric transplant center in the area and a regional referral center, we are continually learning and advancing the technology to care for our patients,” said Harmon. “We now have an additional resource to better serve families in need.”
Monroe Carell is the only transport team in the state that is certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).
Licensed in Tennessee and Kentucky, the pediatric transport team consists of 44 crew members — two day-shift teams, a mid-shift team, and two night-shift teams — that make up to five calls during a 12-hour shift. The program averages about 2,000 transports annually, with about 175 a month.