Children's Hospital has new ambulance

JOHNSON CITY -- Smiles were in abundance Friday morning as the new emergency rescue vehicle arrived in front of The Children's Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC). Lisa Smithgall, Mountain States Health Alliance's (MSHA) Director of Women and Children's Services, Diana Collette, RN, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and Vicki Johnson, RN, in the Perinatal Intensive Care Unit (PICU), could hardly contain their enthusiasm as they opened the door to look into the specially-equipped vehicle. This special ambulance is used by The Children's Hospital to transport neonatal and pediatric patients between hospital facilities unless an emergency prevents its use.
   "And, this is the only one at the Med Center (JCMC)," Smithgall pointed out, as Richard Hamby, representative of American Emergency Vehicles in West Jefferson, N.C., handed her the paperwork on the vehicle. Hamby made the two-hour drive to Johnson City Friday morning from the North Carolina manufacturing plant.
   Hamby said the vehicle is capable of carrying two incubators and also has a stretcher mount, which makes it invaluable as a vehicle to transport sick children, from birth to age 18.
   "This is a critical care vehicle, designed specifically for children's transport," Hamby said, adding that it has a 5,500-watt generator (used as auxiliary power if needed) and two main lifts, including an air lift and oxygen lift. In addition, it has an 1,800-watt inverter, also an auxiliary power source.
   The lift gate, said Smithgall, is one of the most important features on the vehicle.
   In addition to state-of-the-art emergency service equipment, the new ambulance also features a DVD player, a monitor and screen so that sick children can view tapes, as well as a CD player for music for use during a transport from referral hospitals.
   Hamby's firm makes about 25 critical care vehicles a year, he said, adding that it makes 900 ambulances a year that are shipped all across the United States. Smithgall said the new children's ambulance will be in operation as soon as it is licensed and equipped with a radio.