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LLUCH Acquires New, Bigger Pediatric Transport Helicopter

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LOMA LINDA – Air transport to and from Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) just got better and safer. LLUCH has acquired the EC-145 helicopter---an upgrade from the EC-135 that was used in 2011---which is equipped with cutting edge technology and safety features, including twin engines, an autopilot system satellite tracking, night vision goggles and enhanced communication capabilities.

Theresa Doran, R.N., Pediatiric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Transport Coordinator at LLUCH, along with Victor Bannis, RCP, Respiratory Coordinator, and Rene Santiago, R.N., Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Transport Coordinator worked hand-in-hand with Mercy Air to get the new airship to Loma Linda. The new helicopter is owned and operated by Mercy Air Services, Inc., but it is dedicated solely to LLUCH.

”We chose the EC-145 because we felt it was the aircraft that could take us into the future,” Doran said. “The airship’s reliability and enhanced safety features will allow our pilots to maneuver through mountainous regions and rapid weather changes, while its large interior offers optimal functionality enabling our crew to provide in-flight critical care to our patients, regardless of their size.”

The new chopper is used to transport pediatric patients, newborn to 18-years-old, to LLUCH from other hospitals, as far north as Fresno, Ca all the way to the Mexican border. The majority of transports are, however, done within Southern California, and on occasion out-of-state. The new helicopter took its first transport flight to LLUCH on June 3 from Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree, Ca when a young patient needed quick medical treatment due to severe asthma. The PICU transport team was able to critically treat the patient in the air during the 30-minute flight to Loma Linda. Had the patient been transported by ambulance, it would have taken over an hour.

Approximately 40-percent larger than most medical transport helicopters, the EC-145 can carry a team of three in addition to the patient and a family member, whereas most airships can only accommodate a team of two.

LLUCH has two dedicated pediatric and neonatal critical care transport teams on-call 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They can pick up, stabilize and transport very critical patients from any hospital back to Loma Linda. LLUCH’s Pediatric and Neonatal Critical Care Transport team consists of highly trained nurses, respiratory therapists and pediatric physicians. “Our main priority is to make sure our patients get the proper care as quickly as possible,” said Sonea Qureshi, M.D., Attending Physician at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. “With this new helicopter, we are able to focus on the needs of our kids and also try to make them feel comforted and safe during transport.”

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