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New Ambulances Cut Response
Time for Newborns
January 31, 2000

Two newly delivered state-of-the-art neonatal ambulances will cut emergency response time by 50 percent or more for infants in need of specialized neonatal transport and hospitalization. Located at and operated by the Health Center's John Dempsey Hospital, the transport services are available around-the-clock to hospitals and physicians in Connecticut for acutely or chronically ill infants in need of specialized care.

Until recently the Health Center had been using a commercial service but, says Donna Buchanan, manager of neonatal advance practice and transport services at the Health Center, time was lost because the vehicles were not on site. Fully staffed vehicles that meet all essential inpatient neonatal intensive care requirements can now be dispatched within approximately 15 minutes.

Each vehicle can accommodate two infants and three support staff. Support staff include a team leader - a physician, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant - a transport nurse and a respiratory therapist. The vehicles are equipped with controlled lighting, custom-designed incubator setups and backup generators. Mechanical ventilation, IV therapy, full cardio-pulmonary monitoring, and blood gasses can be provided in the vehicle.

"Basically, we can provide all essential care during transport that would be available in an inpatient intensive neonatal unit," says Ted Rosenkrantz, director of the neonatal intensive care unit and newborn services, and medical director of transport services.

"These transports allow us to improve services. We now have our own vehicles, managed by our staff and ready to leave immediately," says Buchanan. "We are the only hospital in Connecticut with customized vehicles, held on site, and staffed by neonatal intensive care personnel."

The transport vehicles were manufactured by Road Rescue, Minneapolis, a company specializing in customized vehicles. Firefighter and paramedic Fran Brunet played a key role in the development of vehicle specifications. Brunet, Buchanan and senior paramedic and fire Captain Carmine Centrella, who is the neonatal vehicle operations manager, worked on the design of the vehicle.

The Health Center is the neonatal referral center for the northern Connecticut region. The decision to transport an infant is made by the infant's pediatrician and the consulting neonatologist at John Dempsey Hospital.

Jane Shaskan