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The Incredible Infant Transport Team

Posted by Jessica Thompson on 26 September 2014 | 6 Comments


Imagine if you lived in the outskirts of BC and your one-month-old baby was having difficulty breathing and needed immediate, specialized care. The Infant Transport Team (ITT) at BC Children’s Hospital receives calls for medical emergencies such as this many times throughout the day. Their job is to bring these precious packages to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver as quickly and safely as possible.

The ITT has a fleet of two helicopters, two fixed-wing airplanes (one turbo prop and one jet) and five ambulances, all equipped to handle neonatal, pediatric and high-risk obstetric patients. “Having three different patient populations, you have three different types of machines, for the most part, that you have to deal with,” says Fernando Grossling, a paramedic on the ITT. 

The most expensive piece of medical equipment that the ITT uses is the neonatal equipment used to care for neonates (from extremely premature babies born at 23 to 24 weeks to babies who are extremely sick and born with congenital anomalies). Medical equipment plays a big role in ensuring the best health outcomes for these fragile patients. BC Children’s Hospital Foundation provides funding to the ITT to purchase state-of-the-art machines and to keep them up-to-date; the average cost of the equipment ranges between $6,000 and $200,000. The state-of-the-art transport incubator, for instance, has a built-in ventilator and monitor, and is able to keep these babies warm. The cost for this, when it’s fully outfitted with infusion pumps, is approximately $200,000.

The ITT is the only critical care paramedic-based team in the world that deals with the three drastically different patient groups; therefore, the training and education involved is quite extensive. “We were all paramedics before the ITT and we were all selected to come into the 26-member team. All of our training was done by BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital,” says Fernando. “All the intensivists in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit were involved, including the nurses and respiratory therapists. All the neonatologists in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were involved, as well as the perinatologists in BC Women’s and midwives. We had a lot of hands-on training.”

It is a difficult job with a lot of pressure but for Fernando, being able to help children in whatever way possible makes it all worth it.

“I know I am just one link in a very vital chain to ensure that we have good outcomes for kids and that includes the doctors, nurses, the respiratory therapists, the support staff, everyone. I’m just happy to be one of those links. Seeing the good outcomes, being able to be there and give back is really rewarding,” he says. “We all started out as paramedics on the street. I worked downtown for 10 years and I never got that rewarding feeling day in and day out as I do being attached here as part of the ITT at BC Women’s and Children’s.”

Meet Vanderhoof's Olive Roberge, just one of the many kids who are doing great today, due in part to the support they received from the Infant Transport Team, and the caregivers at BC Children's.

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  • You guys are absolutely the best. Such respect, care and professionalism. My son was transported from Vernon BC to Vancouver after he got RSV. Your level of attentiveness was incredible and you made the journey so much better.
    Keep up the amazing work, major respect to all of you.

    Posted by Jennifer Seaton, 27/09/2015 9:11pm (2 years ago)

  • ITT has no aircraft assigned to them, they use a pool of Provincial Programs aircraft, sharing with the Critical Care Paramedics.
    "The ITT is the only critical care paramedic-based team" above is not quite correct. None of the ITT are Critical Care Paramedic, they do however provide some critical care to the specified populations mentioned in the article. And they do it very well, just not to be confused with a Critical Care Paramedic.
    ITT draws from the Primary Care Paramedic pool, then do their very intensive ITT training. CCP draws from the Advanced Care Paramedic pool, who have already done an intensive training program above the PCP pool.

    Posted by Corrections ITT, 04/10/2014 11:18am (3 years ago)

  • I have had the honor of working first hand with the ITT team on a number of transfers. As a primary care paramedic, we are routinely brought in to support the ITT's teams basic needs so that they can concentrate on delivering the best patient care that can be established. Watching these experts work with their patients, from the premature tiny to the larger, is awe inspiring.
    Commendable work! Thank you to the team and to all those at BC Childern's, for everything you do.

    Posted by Stephanie, 30/09/2014 12:42pm (3 years ago)

  • I am very proud of my son, Brian Thornburn who is a member of the ITT and the work each member does for sick children who need their expertise.

    Posted by Olivia Thornburn, 29/09/2014 2:56pm (3 years ago)

  • I have a robust 2 year old grandson born with transposition of the great arteries. He was whisked from Prince George to Vancouver shortly after his birth. I have been a doctor for 40 years, and am enternally grateful as well as impressed by these guys.

    Posted by George. Haley, 27/09/2014 2:44pm (3 years ago)

  • I have worked at Children's for 24 years and The ITT always earns my respect. This group of paramedics deal with extremely complex cases with professionalism and competence. I always know that when a patient is being transported in with ITT, they are going to get the best care available. The ITT put their lives on the line for their patients...
    Thank you ITT for all of the work that you do.

    Posted by Michelle M, 27/09/2014 12:10pm (3 years ago)

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