CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Pediatric care in Charleston is being made better because of two new ambulances for Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.
Equipped with state-of-the-art technology and designed with kids in mind, the ambulances are considered Intensive Care Units on wheels.
According to MUSC, these ambulances feature ventilators that can be used on the smallest premature newborns up to 18-year-old teenagers and have been certified by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Division of EMS and Trauma as Neonatal / Pediatric Critical Care “Specialty Care” ambulances. They are also the only trucks in the state to carry a Heliox gas mixture.
“This just helps us extend our mission that we’re here for. This is the community’s children’s hospital,” said Dr. Mark Scheurer, the Chief of Children’s and Women’s Services for MUSC Health.
The ambulances are decorated with child-friendly designs created by a local artist. One is marsh themed, the other is ocean themed.
“This can obviously be big scary times for both the kids and the parents so we wanted to bring a little bit of the Lowcountry to them so we used a local artist, Nancy Lemon, who did a fantastic job for us and created a child-like scene for the ambulances,” said Dr. Scheurer.
Before the two new ambulances were unveiled, the Pediatric Transit Team at the children’s hospital only had one ambulance as well as a helicopter.
“While we have the helicopter out at the airport, we were relegated to one truck,” said Mark Daniell, the Operations Coordinator for the Meducare Pediatric Transport Team. “So, during inclement weather or time when the helicopter might be down for maintenance, we would potentially have to stack patients waiting on us to get back from one before we could go to another.”
Another problem the transport team faced is the lack of ability to carry all equipment they might need at once.
For example, if the team’s mission was an older child, but they then got diverted to a call involving a baby, they had to go back to the hospital and switch out gear leading to longer wait times for emergency situations.
They now can carry all equipment to handle any call at any given time along with having double the crews because of the additional ambulance.
“We’ll have the ability to have two teams on the road simultaneously,” said Daniell.
Another feature added specifically because of where the hospital is located will allow care to continue, rain or shine.
The trucks are built on semi-truck chassis allowing for more elevation. The extra height could assist with flood waters that are commonly seen in Downtown Charleston after a thunderstorm or King Tide.
“We potentially could make it through standing water that some of the van-type ambulances might not be able to make it through without flooding,” said Daniell.
Daniell and his team travel all around the state to care for and transport pediatric patients and he says these new ambulances will allow them to expand their reach.