The facility was launched on Wednesday

Within 48 hours of its introduction, the utility of the neonatal ambulance facility was more than proved when it helped save the life of a critically ill two-day-old-infant on Friday.

The ambulance transported the infant from a maternity hospital to a tertiary paediatric hospital, both in Egmore. The infant, born in the Government Maternity Hospital in Egmore, suffered from diaphragmatic hernia requiring emergency surgery in a paediatric hospital.

Doctors at the maternity hospital, attached to the Institute of Obstetric and Gynaecology, made the call to the EMRI 108 helpline at 12.36 p.m. on Friday. By 12.45 p.m., the ambulance was on its way to the maternity hospital.

The infant was in the incubator and the challenge during the transportation was to maintain a sterile atmosphere, monitor its vital parameters and ensure that the patient was transported safely.

“The infant had difficulty in breathing. Since neonates are very sensitive, it is important to take utmost care while transporting them. Hence, a doctor was also deputed in the ambulance. At the ICH, paediatric surgeons were all prepared to perform the surgery as soon as the infant arrived. Within a few hours of the surgery, the infant was transported back to the maternity hospital and reunited with its mother,” said Adeline Dhivya Israel, Emergency Physician at the EMRI 108 control room. Post-surgery too, the EMRI is keeping track of the condition of the infant.

Since its launch on Wednesday, the neonatal ambulance, which is essentially meant to transport babies less than a month old, has transported eleven infants of which nine were critical. Many of them were from distant places, including primary health centres, and brought to ICH, which has advanced medical care.

“Had it not been for the neonatal ambulance we would not have been able to shift the baby from IOG to ICH. Normally it would require four days to stabilise the infant before being moved to another hospital,” said Rema Chandramohan, a paediatrician attached to the ICH.

Antony Irudhayaraj, who piloted the vehicle, said: “We have been instructed by the doctors to maintain a speed limit of 40 km an hour. Doctors say jerky rides can endanger the baby's life.”

For those part of the ambulance team, the experience is new as the patients are tiny. The nurses remain constantly in touch with the base hospital and with the EMRI control room, who advise on patient care, through conference call.

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