One such machine, is the transport ventilator which is used by the pediatric critical care transport team, headed by Dr. Ping Chen.
The highly specialized team travels via ground and air ambulance to young patients, often in emergency situations.
The team is often referred to as ‘heroes’ and the equipment they use is equally important in their missions.
“Sometimes you get out of the helicopter, you have to pick up your bags and you have to trek through the forest to get to your patient,” Chen said.
The transport ventilator was key back in September, when two-year-old Liam Filipuzzi suddenly began having seizures at their home in Coleman. The toddler had no family history and no strange symptoms.
His mother Lindsey, a nurse, rushed him to the local hospital in Crowsnest Pass area.
“I was panicking”, she said. “He ended up getting intubated.”
But soon local staff realized Liam required care beyond what the small town hospital could provide. He needed to go to the Alberta Children’s Hospital some three hours away, with the help of the transport team.
“They got here really quickly”, she said.
“In our hospital we don’t have a ventilator so they hooked him up right away.”
The 230-kilometre drive to Calgary was excruciating, Filipuzzi said, fighting back tears. “You’re just thinking about what happened and what could go wrong.”
But the transport team kept in constant communication with the family the entire trip. They helped keep Liam’s parent’s calm while the ventilator kept his breathing in check.
Liam would eventually fully recover. Tests later revealed the young boy was suffering from a rare condition where several viruses were attacking his body at once. It was too much for his young body to fight, which brought on the seizures.
“He didn’t even have a fever, his little body was overworked,” Filipuzzi said.
“Technology has evolved — it’s become lighter, more compact, more durable,” Dr. Chen said when describing the newer, better transport ventilators that are now on the market.
“In very sick children, if we give too little oxygen they don’t get the oxygen they need. If we give too much, we can actually cause trauma to their lungs,” Chen said.
Newer technology makes that guesswork much easier.
“Part of the draw working for our team is you never know what you’re going to get,” Chen, a veteran staff member, said with a smile.
“Honestly, we couldn’t do what we do without your support. I love this place.”
To donate, tune in to Country 105 FM until Feb. 3, or visit the Alberta Children’s Hospital website.