Texas Children’s Kangaroo Crew recently received the Texas Department of State Health Services Texas Emergency Medical Services Air Medical Service Award. The award is given annually to an air medical service team in Texas that demonstrates the highest standards in providing patient care and leads the way in innovation and commitment to advancing that care every day.
The Kangaroo Crew demonstrated this resilient commitment at their annual safety training at Hobby Airport. Team members participated in simulated emergencies that may occur in the field.
“We don’t like to talk about it, but it’s something we have to train for and discuss in case of an emergency,” said Kangaroo Crew Education Coordinator Jennifer Bee.
Texas Children’s created the Kangaroo Crew over 30 years ago to transport critically ill babies and children to Texas Children’s Hospital from all over the nation and Central America for high level care. The team’s annual safety training focuses on extensive preparation activities that allow them to agilely care for patients on and off of the ground. The Kangaroo Crew partners with Hobby Airport, Seven Bar Aviation, and Wilson Air to stage the event, which highlights Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, and tactics for responding during aircraft and ambulance transports.
Texas Children’s Mission Control plays a major role in the Kangaroo Crew’s swift transportation process. The initial call for a transport comes through Mission Control to the dispatchers. A charge nurse and physician help assess the need, and a transport team is dispatched immediately. Prior to the creation of Mission Control last year, the transport process averaged about 50-60 minutes.
“Now that Mission Control is part of that process, we’ve decreased our transport time by almost 50 percent,” Bee said. “We’re down to like less than 30 minutes, which is a significant change for our team. We’re getting out the door to the patients much faster.”
Efficiency is an important part of the process when dealing with critically ill patients. However, it is also imperative to perform each step precisely to avoid mistakes. Hence, the annual training.
“You want to stay calm and collected so that way you’re not tripping over stuff,” said Seven Bar Aviation Captain Kyle Neill. “Being more methodical about it versus just trying to get out as soon as possible, is a better practice. That way you can get the patient, unhook their lines and get out the door safely.”
Despite the immense pressure of the job, the goal of the intense training is to educate and strengthen the team. Bee said she makes sure the training is also a bonding experience.
“I try to throw a team building activity in there, which helps because we are constantly on the go when we are here at the hospital,” she said. “It’s kind of a small family. Everybody understands the importance of everyone’s role.”
The Kangaroo Crew employs nearly a hundred employees with a wide range of backgrounds.
“It is imperative that we train as a multi-disciplinary team – with pilots, transport team members and simulated patients – for high-risk-low-frequency events and prepare for every situation,” said Dr. Jeanine Graf, Kangaroo Crew Medical Director. “I am proud to be associated with a consistently high performing team that prioritizes safety in our simulation training.”
Texas Children’s Kangaroo Crew is the only pediatric intensive care transport service in the region that offers such a high level of expertise on each transport.
“As we look forward to the opening of Legacy Tower, we will be ready to provide access to all of our critically ill patients who call on us for service,” Graf said.
Click here or more information about the Kangaroo Crew.