A newborn baby needing critical care in Saskatchewan was the subject of STARS’s first ever neonatal intensive care transport by helicopter.
The air ambulance announced the accomplishment on Monday. The transfer itself took place in December of 2023 – when a child in desperate need of care was transported to the Regina General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“The unique aspect of this child being born out of hospital, was there were a lot of logistical challenges to overcome, with a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. All of the various care providers involved really worked hard to reach that end goal of getting baby safely and quickly to the Regina General Hospital NICU Department; it was inspiring,” STARS Flight Paramedic Ryan MacMillan said in a news release.
Prior to new equipment being introduced that made the transfer possible, STARS would transport the NICU team and its isolette (an enclosed crib that keeps an infant warm) to the scene – where the team and the child would return to the hospital by ground ambulance.
During its most recent fleet upgrade, a new interface was designed to ensure the isolette, including the infant and their medical team, would be safe and secure during the flight.
The changes included approval from Transport Canada and saw NICU teams work closely with STARS, including running practice missions.
“STARS is always looking for new ways to provide the highest level of care to our youngest patients,” STARS President and CEO Katherine Emberly said in the release.
“When a joyous moment, like the birth of a child, takes a scary turn, families across the prairies can rest assured that a team of STARS critical care specialists are on their way with the best equipment possible.”
Veteran STARS flight crew Mike Rogers, Greg Chorney and Ryan MacMillian as well as the NICU speciality team from the Regina General Hospital carried out the first of its kind mission.
The specialized configuration needed to transport the isolette was implemented by STARS Transport Physician Dr. Tom Elliot and Colleen McGeough.
STARS recently celebrated its 10,000th flight in Saskatchewan.