A partnership between the Marion County Ambulance District and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis has already begun saving lives.

A partnership between the Marion County Ambulance District and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis has already begun saving lives.

Cardinal Glennon Hospital provides a two-person transport team and special equipment 24 hours a day at the local ambulance district headquarters.

When a need arises, a Marion County ambulance is used to quickly take newborns or pediatric patients to the hospital in St. Louis. If needed, a helicopter is provided from Cardinal Glennon hospital.

Ironically, the service was needed only two hours after it began on June 9. “Just two hours after we got this unit in service on June 9, we got our first call for service, for a newborn,” said John Nemes, chief of the Marion County Ambulance District. “It is one of those things where it was meant to be.”

Since June 9 the service has been used four more times, all for pediatric patients, according to Erin Nichols, team leader of the transport team with Cardinal Glennon. “All five patients had good outcomes,” Nichols said.

All the transports are from Hannibal Regional or another area hospital to Cardinal Glennon, Nemes said. They are not from the child’s home.

The Cardinal Glennon transport team on duty at the Marion County Ambulance headquarters on Thursday, July 24, was Dana Fraysher, R.N., and Paramedic Dan Heavin.

They explained that each child transported receives a special blanket, called a “transport blankie.” It is especially valuable for newborns, because the blanket is rubbed on the new mother’s face and neck right after delivery, and this gives the newborn her scent. Then the baby is wrapped (swaddled) in the blanket.

Frayser demonstrated how the small isolette used to transport the babies has a neonatal ventilator to accommodate babies with small ventilator tubes, and also has a small IV catheter.

Fraysher enjoys her choice of career, helping newborns and children, noting, “I think kids are just very strong, very resilient. It’s just very rewarding to work with kids. “I worked in E.R. at Cardinal Glennon for 10 years before (joining the transport team).” On the team, she said, “It’s nice to be able to get to the hospital in a timely manner. … The response time has drastically improved, and Marion County has been great to work with.”

Heavin agreed with her opinion of the local ambulance district. “I have been a paramedic for 20 years, working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “The people of Marion County have no idea how lucky they are to have the ambulance service they do. It is by far one of the best I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t have better service.”

Explaining why he is part of the transport team after 20 years as a paramedic, Heavin said, “Paramedics work mainly with adults at the end of their life cycle. But with newborns and children, they are just beginning their life.”

He called the partnership “a huge asset to the community,” adding that the Marion County crews “have been very receptive. John and his staff have been great, and the people in Marion County and the surrounding area have been great.”

Nemes said, “What appealed to us the most was not just being able to provide that resource in our own community, but the fact that Cardinal Glennon sets the bar for pediatric and neonatal care. We are excited about the partnering because of that.

“We couldn’t be happier with the situation,” Nemes added. “The Cardinal Glennon team is fantastic - extremely knowledgeable and has been a pleasure to work with.

“The good thing about our service is we are both committed to excellence, and we constantly strive to find better ways to improve patient care,” Nemes said. “That’s what makes our partnership so easy.”

Another advantage, he said, involves the training that his crew and the transport team share. “We do mutual sharing of training. We can help provide some of that training and they are providing some advanced training to the ambulance district.”

The partnership is renewable every year, Nemes explained, “but we are looking for it to be ongoing.”

He noted that it does not cost local taxpayers any money. “The way things are structured, there is no additional cost to (Marion County) taxpayers.”

The partnership resulted from a meeting at a training conference, he said, when “the hospital’s EMS coordinator met our Deputy Chief John Clemens. The idea was talked about, and over two months we reached an agreement.”

Paramedic Dan Licavoli of the Marion County Ambulance District also is pleased to have this service added. “I think it’s a great asset to the community,” he said. “It helps kids get prompt, specialized care and transportation to a hospital more suitable to their needs.”

Cardinal Glennon reported the Missouri hospitals closest to the Hannibal Transport Team base and most likely to use its services include Hannibal Regional Hospital, SSM Audrain Medical Center in Mexico, Pike County Hospital in Louisiana and Lincoln County Hospital in Troy.

Nearby Illinois hospitals include Blessing Hospital in Quincy and Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield. The Hannibal Transport Team is also available to serve hospitals as far east as Springfield, Ill., and Jefferson City, Mo., to the west.

The Transport Team transferred nearly 1,200 patients to Cardinal Glennon in 2013, including 120 patients from Cape Girardeau. Approximately 20 percent of those transfers were by helicopter.

More details about Cardinal are available on www.cardinalglennon.com

The Marion County Ambulance District is the largest EMS provider in Northeast Missouri, covering roughly 545 square miles in Marion County and parts of Ralls County. Marion County Ambulance District operates three Advanced Life Support units daily, with two locations in Hannibal and one in Palmyra.