Luxembourg, 16 March 2017 - The emergency medical transport of any baby – whether premature or full-term – requires state-of-the-art equipment that can help replicate as far as possible a neonatal intensive care unit.
For babies, maintaining a stable body temperature is crucial. Newborns – and in particular premature babies – can struggle to maintain their body temperature without assistance, and efforts to do so can use up precious energy resources. This is where an incubator plays a vital role, acting as a cocoon where the temperature can be controlled and adapted to the specific needs of the baby.
The challenge during the medical transport of babies is to maintain a stable temperature inside the aircraft, helicopter or ambulance, and on the stretcher in transit between the vehicle and the neonatal unit – and specially designed transport incubators are used for this purpose.
While they can in theory operate with an external energy source (high 220V or low 12V, 24V) and/or a built-in battery, in practice there are differences in electrical set-up between vehicles, on land or in the air, which can cause difficulties and complications in transit. Numerous plugs, adapters and other connectors may be needed, while some pieces of equipment are simply incompatible with power sources other than their own batteries, which may have only a limited capacity.
To help overcome this EAA has developed an intelligent interface, the BLUEBOX, to deliver the current necessary for the incubator and all connected appliances (eg respirator and monitoring equipment), ensuring continuous operation in any vehicle for any length of transport. It runs independently of the external current source, limits the need for extra cables and adapters, and is integrated into the stretcher next to the incubator. In the unlikely event of a problem, it can easily be replaced by a spare BLUEBOX which is stored in the aircraft.
Another vital consideration in emergency neonatal transport is the provision of respiratory assistance. Recent advances in the understanding of the needs of premature babies has led to a gradual shift away from invasive respiratory care, towards more gentle assistance such as CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and high-flow therapy delivered via a nasal cannula.
While the techniques themselves are not problematic for the medical staff, implementing them during transport is a huge challenge as CPAP and high-flow therapy require a warmed and humidified gas, a source of air and oxygen, an air/oxygen mixer and a respirator.
EAA has therefore purchased a Hamilton T1 transport respirator, equipped with special software for newborn babies, which allows for the addition of a heater/humidifier to offer these new techniques. The heater/humidifier also helps to maintain the baby's temperature.
Thanks to these innovative additions, EAA can offer state-of-the-art, high-performance equipment, allowing the transport of newborns under optimum travel conditions