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.
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