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Yukon air ambulance gets new gear and training for babies

The new suite of equipment will reduce reliance on southern air ambulances.
Yukon EMS deputy chief of clinical operations Ryan Soucy shows off newly purchased equipment which will allow the Yukon’s air ambulance to take care of even the youngest and most vulnerable patients. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

Critical care for the smallest and most vulnerable Yukoners is taking to the skies, as a new suite of equipment and a team of specially trained paramedics are now on the job.

The new SKY (Sick Kids Yukon) flight team is an expansion of the territory’s air ambulance program which will allow for flights offering critical care while transporting pregnant mothers, children and newborns.

According to a statement from the Yukon government, the new critical care air ambulance capacity will result in shorter response times for getting patients specialized care in southern jurisdictions. It will also be a cost saving measure, limiting reliance on southern air ambulance for critical cases involving young children or expectant mothers.

Along with specialized equipment for use in the air ambulances, thirteen of the Yukon’s critical care paramedics are now trained to transport the obstetrical, neonatal and pediatric patients, which the SKY team will focus on.

Ryan Soucy, Yukon EMS deputy chief of clinical operations, said the paramedics have devoted hundreds of hours each to training.

Equipment presented at a June 25 press conference included a specialized mechanical ventilator able to assist the lungs of newborns, even those as small as 1.5 kilograms. The cart of equipment also has devices for regulating newborns’ temperature, monitoring heart rate and delivering medication.

Soucy said Yukon EMS is particularly proud of the addition of a fetal heart rate monitor to the kit for the aircraft, as the Yukon’s will be the only transport team in Canada using one while in flight.

“This enables us, when we’re flying pregnant mums to actually monitor what the unborn babies are doing in the belly on the way down,” he said.

“It does twins which is really great.”

He said the equipment will allow for the same level of care available at Whitehorse General Hospital to be brought to the communities and if necessary, to bring patients to hospitals in the south.

The new equipment and paramedic training was praised by Yukon government representatives.

“With this new program, the Yukon EMS team is able to provide air ambulance service to these patients which will greatly reduce wait times for families in stressful situations and enhance critical cares services for residents of rural Yukon communities,” said Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee called the SKY flight team an important step on the way to modernizing medical travel in the territory.

“We anticipate that our new team will be able to transport up to 85 per cent of all pediatric, neonatal and high-risk obstetric patients which would have, prior to SKY, needed the assistance of outside medical teams,” she said

McPhee added that her own family required a medevac to B.C. following the birth of her child 21 years ago. She called the services provided then second to none and described her family’s boundless gratitude for the healthcare workers involved in the transportation.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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