Provider News

Choosing the Right Transport Team

August 3, 2022

When a baby or young child needs to be transported to Seattle Children’s from another care facility, their referring provider may choose the closest available transport option without considering if its ambulance is specifically equipped to safely handle the smallest patients. Chris Baker, a site surveyor for the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems, as well as the clinical manager of Seattle Children’s Critical Care Transport, says, “If you’re going to a specialty hospital, it really makes sense to send a specialty team.”

When making the decision to transport newborns and young children, consider this checklist:

  • Is the transport equipment specifically designed for newborns, infants and children?
  • Does the vehicle include a specially trained team with experience working with newborns and young patients? What kind of clinical and procedural expertise do they have?
  • Does the service include telehealth support that allows providers to observe and interact with the transport team in real-time while they transport infants and their families over hundreds of miles?1
  • Is the transport team trained and equipped to handle mobile ECMO?2
  • Can the team provide active or passive whole-body cooling for newborns who require therapeutic hypothermia?3
  • Do they maintain a continuous focus on improving time and processes that can mean the difference between life and death for a newborn?4
  • Is the team regionally or nationally recognized for their work to improve patient care?
  • Will the team transport a patient to any physician-designated care facility?
  • Does the team have experience handling critical transport in rural areas?
  • Does the transport company own and maintain its fleet?

Baker estimates that about a quarter of the patients transported to Seattle Children’s who use an outside transport service could have benefitted from using Seattle Children’s specialty transport team. That doesn’t mean they didn’t arrive safely, but their needs and condition put them in scope for specialty transport.

Seattle Children’s award-winning pediatric and neonatal transport team is the only team in our five-state region providing critical care transport that is dedicated 100% to kids. Seattle Children’s will transport babies from rural and underserved areas to either one of our locations or to another physician-designated care facility. In 2021, the team received the pediatric neonatal award of excellence from the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) which recognizes Seattle Children’s “wide range of knowledge necessary to provide stabilization and life-saving interventions to neonates and children during transport.”

To request a patient transfer to Seattle Children’s or to another designated medical facility, call 206-987-5437. For general questions or more information about our transport service, feel free to call Chris Baker directly at 206-987-8698.

1According to Dr. Rachel Umoren, a neonatologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s, the role of neonatal transport teams is expanding to include sophisticated therapies that begin with the initial phone call and continue in transport until the infant arrives at their destination.

2Seattle Children’s was the first children’s hospital on the West Coast to offer mobile extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

3Seattle Children’s is the first and only transport team in the Pacific Northwest to offer active and regulated whole-body cooling for infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) during transport. Providing safe, active whole-body cooling during transport allows cooling to begin much sooner, potentially saving more brain cells. This is critical to improving long-term outcomes and decreasing severe neurological damage that can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

4Seattle Children’s is partnering with colleagues from the University of Washington Engineering Department to co-design clinical workflow processes that optimize consultation, triage and transport for neonatal calls. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the communication and monitoring on transport, because we know that’s very important for patient safety.