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October 2003 Issue

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Shriners Hospital Transport Team Chosen as "Fixed Wing Team of the Year"

Published October 2003

The Transport Team at Shriners Hospital for Children has been chosen to receive an "Award of Excellence" by the American Association of Medical Services (AAMS). The award recognizes a fixed wing team making significant contributions to enhance the development or promote the improvement of patient care and safety, in the area of aircraft teams. The Cincinnati Hospital team is the only pediatric transport team devoted to the transport of burn children in the country, and one of 150 other fixed wing teams in the country eligible for the award.

The air ambulance transports critically burned children from the Midwest and Southeastern United States to the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital for specialized burn care. The Transport Team's program, developed in 1988, is staffed by 18 of the hospital's burn care nurses and respiratory therapists, and supervised by the medical team. As with the medical care provided at Shriners, there is no cost to the family for the transportation arrangements. Local Shrine centers from the referring hospital's location sponsor the patient, picking up the cost of the transport, which averages $5,200 per flight.

"We strive to ensure the safest transport of our patients, while at the same time instilling measures to enhance the survival of our patients. We transport children who have suffered the devastation of a burn injury, which effects not just their skin, but involves aggressive airway and ventilatory management, precise fluid resuscitation, temperature management, and compassionate pain management," states Rodney Plapp, respiratory therapist and Flight Team member. "At the same time, we are bringing a family member with us who may have just gone through one of the most tragic events of their life. It is a very emotional experience on many levels."

"We are quite honored to receive this award," says Teresa Merk, RN, BSN, CMTE, Flight Team coordinator at the Cincinnati hospital. "Our team is privileged to be able to offer this service for patients and their families who require transport. It has often meant the difference between life and death for many of the burn patients."

The team can be airborne within 2.5 hours from the time the initial referral call is received. The first 24-48 hours of a pediatric burn injury can be extremely critical to the eventual outcome for the patient, especially if the child is going to be transported. A severe burn can result in burn shock and massive amounts of fluid loss, which can disrupt major organ function and cause respiratory complications. The faster the child is seen by a burn team, the better their chances for survival.

Since this team is the only one in the Shriners Hospitals for Children system, they are often called upon to transport patients for the other hospitals. In 1994 the team began transporting spinal cord injury patients for both the Chicago and Philadelphia Shrine Hospitals.

In July 1996, the Transport Team received full accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Air Medical Services (CAMTS), which sets the standard for air medical services and safety. This endorsement from the Commission has been renewed every three years since. Shriners Hospital Transport Team has very impressive statistics (2001-2002):

  • 1376 patients transported
  • 990,747 miles flown
  • 4,085.96 hours in flight

Shriners Hospitals for Children system is a network of 22 hospitals offering specialized orthopedic, spinal cord injury and burn injury care to children. No payment is ever sought or received from the family, the U.S. government or any third-party payer for services rendered.

For more information about Shriners Hospitals for Children call 1-800-237-5055.

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