SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A specialized ambulance in Savannah is on track to help more patients this year compared to 2018.
Memorial’s neonatal ambulance cares for babies and transported 400 tiny patients to and from local hospitals last year.
Doctors and nurses say the biggest difference between a regular ambulance and the neonatal ambulance is that everything is geared towards babies. Two EMTs, a nurse, and a respiratory therapist are on board at all times.
“This ambulance is able to handle the sickest and the most fragile of babies which we take care of here since we are a level 3 NICU,” said Dr. Ben MacKowiak, the Medical Director of Neonatal Transport.
Memorial Health is one of the only Neonatal level three intensive care units in our area. Since other hospitals rely on Memorial to treat babies in serious condition, Memorial needed a way to transport those babies to Savannah.
“We have the ability to put the baby on a ventilator," says Kaylee Dennard, a Neonatal Transport Coordinator. "We have the ability to keep the babies temperature warm and maintain their environment and we also have the vital signs monitor and so everything is built in right here for the baby to be monitored.”
Dennard says everything on the ambulance is specifically for babies. She says traditional ambulances do not have the correct oxygen or supplies that they need.
“Pretty much our ambulance is an extension of our NICU. Everything that we do in the NICU here at Memorial we can do out in the field in our ambulance to be able to provide the best care for our babies.”
Doctors say most of the babies they treat have some type of breathing problem. That’s why the special ventilators and other supplies are so important.
“Being able to know that whatever we would have done for them here in our hospital we can start initiating on this ambulance as soon as our team gets to the facility asking us to transport the baby,” said Dr. MacKowiak.
Dennard says the only ambulances like this are in Charleston, Jacksonville or Augusta.
Monica Jefferson’s son Aiden was transported recently in the ambulance. She says it’s scary when your child is sick.
“The experience of that, with two brand new parents, this is our first born, and how terrifying that can be they really gave as much support as they possibly could,” said Jefferson.