In The News

‘Air Kids One’ helps critically ill children in Oklahoma

Jul 26, 2017, 13:24 PM by Kate Krumm
An expected healthy birth can turn into an unexpected emergency. It's a reality hundreds of parents face each year in Oklahoma. However, through Air Kids One at OU Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, care is just a flight away to the smallest, most fragile patients.

An expected healthy birth can turn into an unexpected emergency. It's a reality hundreds of parents face each year in Oklahoma. However, through Air Kids One at OU Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, care is just a flight away to the smallest, most fragile patients.

"I can't think of a better word for it than terrifying," said Seth Ross. "Nobody was talking to us. I got to hold her for maybe 20 seconds.

This is how Seth Ross remembers the moments following the birth of his daughter Jane.

"She just couldn't breathe when she was born," said Ariel Ross, Jane's mother. "We're still not sure how long it was that she wasn't breathing, it was anywhere from three minutes to 20 minutes."

Doctors in Stillwater rushed the Ross's newborn daughter away to another room where they got her breathing again but they worried she suffered brain damage. So, help an hour away was called in, from Air Kids One in Oklahoma City.

"When we get a call, we get a little bit of information about what the baby is going to be but we really never know until we get there and we start assessing," said Jamie Lewis, a nurse on Air Kids One's neonatal flight team.

Once the chopper lands, the first five minutes are crucial.

"We work on stabilizing and doing everything that baby needs to do," said Lewis.

The nurses stabilized Jane and started a cooling process to slow down her bodily functions so her brain could recover.

"She was already in this big incubator looking thing that they were going to transport her in so I got to see her in there for a couple of minutes," said Ariel.

The medical helicopter flew baby Jane back to OU Children's Hospital in OKC.

"Our flight back is just about maintaining what we've already done, monitoring the baby," said Lewis.

While Ariel recovered at the hospital in Stillwater, Seth drove to Oklahoma City to be with Jane.

"Even though there were a lot of negative emotions that were all kind of happening simultaneously there was this kind of nagging sense that you were spared something worse," he said. 

Jane spent 10 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A cell phone picture Seth took of Jane was all her mother had until they were reunited.

"It was really hard," Ariel remembers. "I didn't get to hold her for about three days."

Thirteen nurses are assigned to Air Kids One. Kendra Riel is one of them.

"We see so much, these parents expect a happy healthy baby," Riel said. "For me, I want to make this horrible experience for this little baby the best that I possibly can."

Air Kids One is the only medical helicopter in Oklahoma dedicated to transporting infants and children.

"Whenever your interventions are working, it is the best feeling in the world, especially to tell these parents 'it's working' the baby needed this and this is helping," Riel said.

Jane's treatment worked and now she's nine months old and thriving.

"You would just never know, she's perfect," said Ariel.

"As miserable as it all was at the time, now it is just a memory," said Seth.

Since 2015, Air Kids One has transported 630 children.