The best methods of neonatal transport are determined by the situation and which options a particular location or hospital has on hand. Infants who are in critical condition may be airlifted or driven using a special ambulance designed for babies. Others may be taken by regular ambulance. Each of these options is used, when available, in certain situations.
Most commonly, neonatal transport consists of using a conventional ambulance to move a baby from one place to another. These are equipped with lifesaving medical equipment, although most of it is not tailored to infants in particular. This is generally the option of choice when the infant is in stable condition, although emergency medical personnel are trained to respond in the event of an emergency en route.
When available, a specialized ambulance with equipment designed for infants may be used for neonatal transport. While this is not always necessary, it makes travel for critically ill babies much safer because the supplies being used are meant specifically for them. Although these supplies can often be used in a conventional ambulance if special accommodations are made, these vehicles are used for nothing but infant transport and are much better equipped for an infant’s unique needs.
Infants who have to get medical care within minutes may require the use of a medical helicopter for neonatal transport. These are usually supplied much like an ambulance and feature life saving equipment on board. They are reserved for those who are in immediate and severe medical distress and when a hospital is needed much faster than a traditional ambulance can provide on the ground. Patients may be moved from their home or another area to the hospital, or from one hospital to another one with better accommodations.
The best transport option depends on the severity of the condition and the age of the child. Premature infants who cannot survive without the aid of specialized equipment do better in neonatal ambulances, while older or full-term babies may not require such specialized care. The exact option used is generally determined by hospital staff or the child’s physician.
Not all options are available in every location. Some areas may only have traditional ambulances, while others may have access to all three. In locations where there are fewer options, special arrangements may need to be made for safe transport of very sick infants.