COLUMBIA — MU Health Care ambulances and helicopters are being outfitted with cantaloupe-size blue stickers, signifying the vehicles' readiness to offer emergency pediatric care throughout Columbia and surrounding areas.
A member of the pediatric subcommittee of the State Advisory Council on Emergency Medical Services inspected MU Health Care's vehicles and gave out the stickers on June 26. To receive the recognition, emergency vehicles must contain a set list of pediatric care equipment recommended by the federal EMS for Children program.
Out of 214 total hospital services in Missouri, MU Health Care is one of 23 to have received the recognition so far.
The recognition is part of an effort by the advisory council and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' Bureau of EMS to promote optimal pediatric care in Missouri. The group is also organizing a conference on pediatric care for February 2010.
"The big stickers show the public that they're committed to exceeding minimum standards and striving to rise above the status quo for pediatric care," said Greg Natsch, bureau chief of EMS for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
MU Health Care has four ambulances that run at all times and one "flex" ambulance that runs 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ambulance, based out of University Hospital, responds to 150 to 180 calls a month, said Eric Mills, assistant manager of ambulance services at University Hospital.
About 20 percent of the equipment in the ambulances is pediatric specific, said Dan Lund, ambulance supervisor for MU Health Care.
"This is equipment made especially for children," Lund said. "It's not adult equipment that has been retro-fitted for children — that isn't safe for kids."
The three Staff for Life helicopters run by MU Health Care carry the same equipment as the ambulances. The helicopters are located in Columbia, Osage Beach and La Monte.
"We've got a complete range of any pediatric equipment you'd need," said Leeann Johnson, assistant manager of helicopter services for MU Health Care. "We handle all ages too, from the newly born to the elderly."
Boone Hospital Center has all the equipment on the checklist of pediatric equipment as well, but an inspector has not visited yet, said Bryant Gladney, manager of ambulance services for Boone Hospital Center.
"This is standard equipment; we've had for about 20 years now," Gladney said. "We're just waiting for someone to come by and make it official."