Like most new parents, Olga and Christian Zimmerman were looking forward to days filled with diapers and bottles, and even a few sleepless nights with their brand new baby boy, Alden.
Things were going well at home. Although Alden was having a bit of trouble nursing, he was not particularly fussy. At his first well baby check-up, however, he was jaundice and had a slightly sunken fontanel, both signs of dehydration. Olga and Christian took him to Penobscot Bay Medical Center for testing, where they found his sodium
levels were very high. This situation can lead to seizures or even a coma and needs to be treated quickly.
Realizing Alden would require care from a specialty hospital, doctors at Pen Bay arranged for Alden to go to Barbara Bush Childrens Hospital, at Maine Medical Center in Portland. When Olga and Christian realized LifeFlight had been called to transport their newborn son, they began to worry this was something more serious.
Paramedic Joe Moore had only been working for LifeFlight for a few months when the call came in to transport baby Alden, who was just a few days old. He and flight nurse Joe Dragon had, coincidentally, spent the morning practicing their pediatric skills in the Maine EMS/LifeFlight of Maine human patient simulator mobile lab. Now they would need to put their skills to work for real.
Brand new infants are a special challenge to transport because they struggle to regulate their own body temperature, an issue that is made more difficult when the infants are critically ill or injured. Thanks to the generosity of more than 100 private donors, LifeFlight was able to purchase two isolettes, special infant carriers designed to maintain a constant ambient temperature and monitor a sick newborn’s vital signs.
As Joe and Joe loaded the isolette onto the helicopter in Bangor, Olga said goodbye to her son at Pen Bay and headed to Portland so she would be there when Alden arrived with LifeFlight. Meanwhile, the LifeFlight helicopter in Bangor made its way to Pen Bay in Rockport. The crew brought the isolette right into the emergency department, where they could assess Alden and settle him into his new environment for the 28-minute flight. When Christian handed Alden over to Joe Moore, who was himself a brand new father, Joe found he had a whole new perspective on the trust families put in the LifeFlight crew.
The flight went smoothly, with Alden’s vital signs remaining stable. The staff at Barbara Bush Childrens Hospital got Alden back on track over the next couple of days, and he was able to return home to Hope with his parents after less than a week.
CommSpec Jonathan Roebuck
Pilot Dave Beaulieu
Nurse Joe Dragon
Medic Joe Moore