Jodi Whitaker


Parents Credit Kentucky Kids Crew For Saving Six-Week Old Son's Life

Published: Mar 26, 2013


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LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 26, 2013) - March 3, 2013, is a day Heather and Dustin Stephens will never forget. Ever.


Their 6-week-old son, Kasen, had been sick. He had a cough that just would not stop. The worse his cough became, the more trouble Kasen had breathing. He had not spiked a fever, but they knew something was wrong.


So they decided to take Kasen to Baptist Regional Hospital in Corbin, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Kasen's breathing worsened, and doctors decided Kasen needed to be transported to the Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH) for care. Heather and Dustin would follow the transport to Lexington.


As the KCH pediatric/neonatal transport team loaded Kasen into their specialized pediatric ambulance, they told Heather and Dustin that if anything happened while they were traveling - if Kasen's situation worsened - the driver would pull the ambulance over to the side of the road. If that happened, Heather and Dustin were to stay in their car and wait for information from someone in the ambulance.


About 15 minutes into their trip to Lexington, Heather and Dustin saw the ambulance pull over. Heather says at that point, everything became a fog.


Dustin jumped out and ran to the ambulance. Heather followed him. When they got to the ambulance, they witnessed the team performing CPR on their tiny baby.


The next moment was unfathomable for Heather.


"Kelly (Turner, of the transport team) said 'you're going to get in this ambulance, and you're going to kiss your baby'." Heather said. "I thought that would be the last time I kissed him, but it wasn't."


What followed was the longest drive of Heather's life, she said. Members of the transport team called Heather regularly throughout the rest of the trip to let her know that Kasen was doing well.




The Kentucky Kids Crew - the Kentucky Children's Hospital's pediatric/neonatal transport team - provides inter-facility (hospital-to-hospital) critical care transportation for both neonatal and pediatric patients. They are the only transport team in the region exclusively dedicated to transporting newborns and children.


The team is dedicated to pediatric and neonatal transport 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. The team averages 700 transports a year in a service area that includes Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee.


Kasen was one of the dozens of pediatric patients transported by the Kentucky Kids Crew this month. The Kentucky Kids Crew's Facebook page is filled with comments from appreciative parents,


For Heather, this experience was life changing. If not for the Kentucky Kids Crew, Heather says, she is certain Kasen's outcome would have been different.


"If it hadn't been them - a team that is specialized in what they do - I think we would have attended Kasen's funeral instead of bringing him home," Heather said.


The Kentucky Kids Crew is led by neonatologists and pediatric intensivists and includes:

  • Critical care nurses trained in advanced procedures such as intubation, chest tubes and umbilical line placement
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMT) who drive the ambulances used for ground transport
  • Air Methods of Kentucky, which provides pilots and helicopters used for air transport
  • A dedicated transport team on duty 24 hours a day, ready to be mobilized immediately when a referring facility calls


The transport team utilizes state-of-the-art ambulances, helicopters and other equipment specially designed to meet the needs of our young patients.


The team vehicles are equipped as mobile intensive care units that enable the team to provide neonatal and pediatric critical care. They are a close-knit team that encourage and support each other in their roles and exemplify the mutual respect that encompasses Kentucky Children’s Hospital. 


In January, the Kentucky Kids Crew transported 88 patients - the most in a single month since December of 2006.


"Research shows that transporting these fragile patients requires an experienced team and access to specialized vehicles and equipment,” said Dr. Scottie Day, medical director of the Kentucky Children's Hospital pediatric/neonatal transport team. "As a parent, you can rest assure that when we arrive at outside facilities, we bring the cutting-edge intensive care capabilities of KCH.” 


The team is also involved in other endeavors beyond the transport and stabilization of neonatal and pediatric patients. In January of 2012, the Kentucky Children's Hospital joined six other children's hospitals to form the first-ever national consortium to benchmark and set guidelines for quality and safety on critical care transports.




On March 14, after 12 days in the Kentucky Children's Hospital, Kasen went home.


As Kasen continues to get stronger and grow, Heather remains thankful for the people who were there to care for Kasen during such a difficult time.


"They saved his life," Heather said. "They were God-sent for sure."


The Kentucky Children's Hospital pediatric/neonatal transport team members are: Debbie Rice, Tina McCoy, Kimberly Samuelson, Kelly Turner, Kate Fletcher, Yoshiko Ishmael, Caty Curlis, Alissa Richey, Jennifer Moore, Carrie Shepperson, Terry Nalle, Erin Willis, Lynne Kain and Shelly Marino. EMTs and Paramedics from the UK Emergency Communications Office drive the ambulances and assist the nurses when necessary in patient care.






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