Pediatric patients have been transported on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) before, but never had such a transport been attempted by the transport team at UF Health Shands Hospital in Florida. When the time came to pick up the first patient last year, AARC member Timothy Bantle, RRT, was a part of the team.
As an ECMO coordinator at the hospital, Bantle regularly cares for these patients on the inpatient site – in the month of February alone, he and his colleagues did over 1,200 hours of ECMO on six patients, one of them pediatric – but the prospect of traveling to a referring hospital to pick up a child in need of ECMO was daunting.
“This was no easy task and was many, many months in the making,” says the RT. The team had been preparing for the eventuality of such a transport all year long, working closely with the manufacturer’s representative on the specific equipment that would be used.
Bantle was on duty at the hospital when the call came in. A child was in critical condition and ECMO was deemed to be the most viable solution. The team, which also consisted of a paramedic, nurse, and another ECMO primer, left that evening.
“For this particular patient, and because it was our very first ECMO transport, we went by ground,” he continues. “It was a five hour round trip – two hours driving there, one hour at the facility, and two hours back.”
Thankfully, the transfer to the ECMO device went smoothly and the return trip was uneventful. The patient was soon at Shands, where Bantle continued to be involved in the case throughout the child’s successful ECMO run.