When ShandsCair aircraft can’t get there, count on the ground transport team
If an adult patient does not meet flight criteria or needs to be transported when weather conditions are making it unsafe to fly, ShandsCair’s ground transport team comes into play.
Ground team members, including Chad Thomas, EMT-P, transport patients from outlying medical facilities to UF Health Shands Hospital, released ICU patients back to their original facilities, and help with other interfacility transports as needed.
“ShandsCair bends over backward for patients, regardless of what insurance card they carry, where they’re at or what their life story is,” Thomas said. “For the most part, we’ll go and get anybody and bring them back to the hospital where they can receive quality care.”
As a critical care paramedic, Thomas said preparation is the key to making sure the process of transporting patients runs smoothly. He said members of the ShandsCair team are required to complete intensive training and continued education to ensure they are prepared for whatever situation they might face.
“We’re expected to know everything we know but in five minutes,” Thomas said. “If you get called to someone who is not breathing, you’re there in five minutes. Everything you’ve ever learned in your career, you’re expected to bring to that patient – all your skill sets, all your experiences, your special senses — you’re expected to know it all.”
Thomas, who calls ShandsCair’s ambulances “mobile ICUs,” said working both rapidly and meticulously and remaining calm on the job are skills that come with practice and experience.
“If you’re well-skilled, well-versed and have the knowledge, it almost comes as muscle memory,” he said.
The team transports patients ranging from those who require minimal monitoring to those who are in need of clinical care to their new destinations.
ShandsCair’s ground team keeps the vehicles well-stocked with medical supplies such as medications, ventilators and balloon pumps at all times. Vehicles also include equipment for hemodynamic monitoring, which allows paramedics to measure patients’ blood pressure, blood flow and oxygen in the blood.
Having worked in the health care field for more than a decade, Thomas said there has been more than one instance when a patient made him feel proud to do his job.
“You meet amazing people. You witness amazing stories where someone shouldn’t have survived and they did,” he said. “On a daily basis, we know we are truly having a positive impact on someone else’s life, whether that be through a simple smile or something we did clinically to improve someone’s chance of survival.”
Available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, Thomas said the ShandsCair teams work together to give patients a second chance at life.
“When someone shows up in a ShandsCair shirt or fight suit, you know you’re getting top-notch, quality care.”