WINNIPEG — Children should not be transported between hospitals by the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) until changes are made, a report into the air ambulance service in Manitoba recommends.
The Manitoba government requested the report after three critical incidents involving STARS. One patient died shortly after a STARS flight and two-year-old Morgan Moar was brain damaged after his STARS flight from Brandon. His family says he didn’t receive oxygen for 30 minutes.
The report recommends creating a pediatric transport team for cases involving children up to age 12.
“A special set of skills are required and people generally working in the adult arena just don’t get the kind of experience they need when managing very small children,” said Dr. Brian Postl, dean of medicine at the University of Manitoba, who led the clinical oversight committee that made the report.
A similar model is already in place for the neonatal age group. The team includes a pediatric respiratory therapist as well as an ICU nurse and ICU physician.
Until the team is in place, the report recommends STARS not transport children under 12 years old between hospitals.
“I think it is much safer to utilize people who do this day in and day out and know how to manage children, how to manage their size,” Postl said.
Postl also recommended a physician take part in all transports for the first two months to provide additional support and help restore public confidence in the air ambulance.
STARS says it will try to make its service safer.
“Everyone needs to come together when things don’t go the way they planned and certainly work needs to be done,” said Cam Heke, a spokesperson for STARS. “It has been addressed in those recommendations and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and do everything we can.”
The province still defends its decision to ground STARS last year.
“When we got medical advice from our medical professionals and they had some concerns and needed to ground STARS, we took that very seriously,” said Erin Selby, Manitoba’s health minister.
The report supports STARS continuing other interfacility transports. Those resumed on July 2 when the province was put under a state of emergency due to flooding.
READ MORE: Lauded elsewhere, STARS troubled in Manitoba
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