Intensive care units on wheels give life-saving medical care - | WBTV Charlotte

Intensive care units on wheels give life-saving medical care

Ground transport includes mobile intensive care units. (Source: WECT) Ground transport includes mobile intensive care units. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

You might have seen supersized ambulances around New Hanover County and wondered what they are. These large vehicles are Critical Care Transport Vehicles, a part of  VitaLink, an emergency service that transports patients by ground and air.

The primary mission of these VitaLink vehicles is to transport patients between hospitals, but they also respond to 911 calls if there aren't any smaller ambulances available at the time.

The Critical Care Transport Vehicles function as intensive care units (ICU) on wheels, according to Karen Willenbring, critical care flight paramedic.

Blood transfusion, oxygen ventilation, and high flow nasal cannula are just three of the features which distinguish Critical Care Transport vehicles from other ambulances. 

"We can bring blood to the patients, and that cuts down on the amount of time that the patient might have to wait for that unit of blood," Willenbring said.

VitaLink has nine critical care transport vehicles. On average, they assist more than 700 patients and drive about 38,000 miles per month, according to data provided by Kevin Hodge, chief transport nurse and program manager for VitaLink and AirLink. 

“VitaLink was the first emergency medical services agency in the country accredited by the College of American Pathologists as a point of care testing lab. The team can initiate advanced medical care even before the patient arrives at the hospital,” according to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center website.

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