“We identified the fact that most of our mass transport vendors, those that are able to move patients on a daily basis, do not have the equipment and/or the staff to move small NICU babies in mass capacities in the event that we need to de-risk or evacuate a hospital,” says Jessica. “We identified the risk, and we decided to put our heads together and figure out ‘How can we take care of this ourselves? How can we address this issue?’”
Delicate transport requires particular care
The goal of the emergency NICU training is to educate NICU colleagues about the role of transport teams, and encourage input from those clinicians in order to develop more complete response plans for moving infants and any essential equipment between facilities during pressure-packed situations.
“We’ve got this really high-functioning group of clinicians that we need [in order to] help move this small population, but this small population takes the most equipment, and they’re the most time-intensive,” says Jessica. “They’re the most resource-intensive.”
Conducting those transfers safely during an emergency adds another element of uncertainty — and another level of difficulty. Understanding how to work in an environment with heightened stress levels extra pressures is key to sensitive delivery of care and a successful transfer.
“It’s not always going to be fun, and it’s not going to be comfortable, because you are going into a disaster environment,” she says. “We want to prepare them for that stuff ahead of time. And I think they really appreciate the fact that they’ve been pre-briefed on these things, and that we actually walk through scenarios of what things may look like so that they can experience and respond to that.”
Terry Valentino, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, EMT-P, director of Emergency Preparedness, EMS and Medical Transport at Medical City Healthcare in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, says transport experts like paramedics, EMTs and nurses know how to move patients and how to deal with the elements. But oftentimes there are differences in equipment and protocols that can create delays. The NICU IST training, he says, helps ensure that every staffer is on the same page.
“That particular type of transport is very specialized, so it takes special equipment that is normally outside the scope of what a regular critical care transport team would have available to them,” says Terry “So we have to identify where we have trained teams and where we have specialized equipment that can move these small patients safely. It’s a very specialized skill. You’ve got to have some process and some thought around where you get all these resources to move patients.”
He says clinicians who do this type of work are typically within a hospital, with little exposure to the transport industry.
“To respond and be prepared to go into an environment that is flooded and [where] there’s no running water or electricity — those are things that a lot of clinicians have never been exposed to,” he says.