33 years and counting: Ride along with the transport team at Mary Bridge
Julie Winger, RN, doesn’t usually get tears in her eyes when she talks about her work.
With more than 20 years on the Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, this seasoned veteran has helped make sure thousands of critically ill children and babies can make it to lifesaving care at our hospital.
But there’s one story from a recent trip that makes her pause before she shares.
“We got a call that we needed to pick up a 3-year-old girl at a local hospital,” she says. “She was septic. A team was doing CPR when we got there.”
It was less than 10 miles to Mary Bridge. However, Winger emphasizes, in moments where small lives hang in the balance, moments and miles matter — more than ever.
“Without the transport team, she would not have made it the short distance,” she says.
But the little girl did make it to Mary Bridge, where she received the advanced support that saved her life.
Mary Bridge’s transport team began caring for its first patients in 1985. The team is staffed with an RN from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and a respiratory therapist.
An emergency medical technician (EMT) drives the rig, an ambulance outfitted specifically for caring for young patients. Two ambulances are dedicated for pediatric transport at Mary Bridge.
The nuances of caring for children and babies in critical situations is essential for helping get them stabilized and to lifesaving care.
Currently Mary Bridge’s team is the only pediatric critical care ground transport team in Western Washington. The team became freestanding in 2014, which means each team member’s shift is designated for transport duties.
“We’ve always been here,” Winger says. “It shows we have the capability and skill to transport really sick kids. And we do an amazing job.”
In 2017, the team transported 658 children to the PICU at Mary Bridge, including the little girl Winger cared for on that 10-mile ride.
She trades her tears for a smile as she remembers the happy outcome.
“She recently came for a visit and was running around and talking,” Winger recalls. “Those are the kind of things that make this job worth doing.”
About The Author
Jen Rittenhouse is the social media manager for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She writes stories that connect people with hospitals, health care and each other. You can reach her at [email protected].
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