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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala. (Dec. 12, 2023) — The Critical Care Transport Unit at Children’s of Alabama is marking a huge milestone. The program turns 40 years old this year.

“We’re thankful for the fact that we have been able to do it,” said Jason Peterson, director of the Critical Care Transport Unit. “When we really sit down and reflect on the 40 years of evolution of the care we’ve provided, I just think it’s remarkable that we are still able to do it, and we are honored to provide the level of care to our community.”

The Critical Care Transport Unit started in 1983. Leadership at Children’s of Alabama saw a need for a higher level of care to be provided throughout the community and the state. The team responds to other hospitals or clinics and transports critically ill or injured patients back to Children’s. Currently, the team consists of 13 full-time staff members and some part-time members with nearly 275 years of combined experience. They are nurses and respiratory therapists who are physician-led. They have access to a fleet that’s made up of ground ambulances, a helicopter and a medically configured jet that is shared with UAB. 

“As of October 2023, we actually broke the 36,000-patient transport mark, and we traveled more than 7 million miles in all of those endeavors,” said Peterson.

Peterson says one transport that made an impact on the team took place after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. The team was asked to help transport babies from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ochsner Medical Center. At that time, the hospital had been affected by the hurricane and was running on generator power.  There was no option to travel by ground to the hospital due to the flooding. Peterson says the team transported a total of eight babies back to Birmingham over a 2-day span.

“I consider it a small role, but a lot of people consider it a large role,” said Peterson. “Looking back at this experience defines why I am doing the job I am doing now.”

Peterson also adds that the last 40 years would not have been possible without the help of the hospital’s administration and community partners, such as Rotary District 6860 and the Monday Morning Quarterback Club. He also wants to thank the team for all their hard work and dedication.

“I am most thankful for the staff who works with us. They see a lot of critical patients every day,” said Peterson. “To do what they do every day, take care of the children and bring them back to the hospital for the best care available in the state, is truly amazing.”

For more information on the critical care transport unit, click here.