MedFlight911 Air Ambulance Coordinates High-Stakes Medical Transport from the Ukraine to the U.S.
In early February, a house fire in the city of Lviv, Ukraine, left just three survivors, siblings aged 2, 11, and 13 - their parents, grandparents, and other siblings were all killed. MedFlight911 Air Ambulance, based in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, worked with an international team of medical providers, the Red Cross, and diplomats from both countries, to arrange transport for the surviving.
- Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (1888PressRelease) February 29, 2012 - When MedFlight911 received a call from a Massachusetts doctor about three young burn victims in the Ukraine who needed emergency air medical transport to Shiners Hospital in Boston, there wasn't any question about whether or not to take the job.
"This was a heartbreaking case," says Medflight911's CEO William Dee McCluskey. "It was also one of the most complicated transports I've ever been involved in."
The children were the only survivors of a devastating house fire that had killed almost their entire family. All three were in a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, but because of the severity of their injuries and the limited medical facilities available in their home country, they needed to be moved as soon as possible to a specialized hospital capable of treating pediatric burn patients.
MedFlight911 worked together with doctors and officials in the U.S., Ukraine, and Canada to begin the process of transporting the three children to the hospital in Boston. "You had resources of three countries involved, and the politics of the situation were very intense and emotional," says McCluskey.
Sadly, two of the children were so severely injured that they died before the final details of the transport were arranged. However, MedFlight911 was able to work with the doctors in Ukraine to complete the complicated transfer of the 11-year-old boy, who had burns over 99.5 percent of his body.
The journey involved stops in multiple countries (including Scotland, Iceland, and Canada) and hazardous weather conditions, including temperatures that dipped to -26° C. Those freezing temperatures presented problems for both the plane, which could not operate in extreme temperatures, as well as the patient. The hospital staff sealed off hallways and stairwells with plastic sheeting, creating a temperature-controlled tunnel so that the MedFlight911 medical team could safely move the boy from his room to the waiting ambulance. That extra effort was necessary because the cold temperatures could have further damaged the boy's already delicate skin tissue.
Once the transfer to the air ambulance was completed, the patients and crew were ready to begin the trip to Boston. Throughout the 14-plus hour trip to the U.S. the medical crew was focused on keeping the boy as stable as possible. Fortunately, because of the combined efforts of the MedFlight911 team and the others involved in the transfer, the boy made it to the U.S. safely. When doctors at the hospital in Boston took over the boy's care, they expressed how impressed they were with the level of care the boy had received during the trip.
Currently, the boy is in stable condition at Shiners in Boston, where he is accompanied by one of his surviving relatives. "He's not out of the woods yet, but they're optimistic about him doing well," says McCluskey.
While this was an extremely complex transfer, the combined efforts of the MedFlight911 team, doctors in Boston and the Ukraine, officials in several countries, and members of the Lviv community who came together to raise the money to pay for the transport, allowed for the boy to get the care he needed and begin the long recovery process.
"Because of the efforts of the U.S. doctors and the dedication of a great number of people to this case, this child's life will be saved," said Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyy, in a letter thanking MedFlight911 for its efforts.
"While this was a challenging situation, everyone involved was able to work together to find a solution that allowed us to save the life of a child, which is an amazing feeling," says McCluskey.
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