4th February, 2020

Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH) is set to become the first hospital in Australia to implement an innovative new medical equipment solution which will help in the transfer of critically ill children from one hospital to another.

The device, called a ‘stretcher bridge’, was designed and developed by Sunshine Coast aerospace technology company, HeliMods.

The stretcher bridge was originally designed for use in air ambulance helicopters but will now be used in the SCUH Paediatric Intensive Care Unit to attach medical equipment to a child’s hospital bed when being transferred to another facility.

Jeff MCColl (Wishlist) and Joshua Girardi, James Helsham, Alex Canhao, Lachlan Arundell from HeliMods.

HeliMods Managing Director Will Shrapnel said the stretcher bridge was the only solution capable of carrying all intensive care equipment on a single unit, which can travel together with the patient on a stretcher, allowing for faster and safer patient transfers between hospitals.

“We’ve carefully designed this technology to allow for critical medical equipment to be arranged in such a way that is easily accessible for nurses, paramedics and other critical care works in a patients transfer scenario,” Mr Shrapnel said.

“We’re very happy that securing this new innovation for our local hospital has been made possible by Wishlist, who have funded the solution for the Coast’s youngest patients.”

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe said funds raised through last year’s 92.7 Mix FM’s Give Me 5 For Kids and a pop-up restaurant spearheaded by Ken Mills Toyota, allowed for a $500,644 boost to vital paediatric services and equipment.

The hospital foundation took delivery of the medical equipment bridge from HeliMods last week and expect the patient transfer stretcher to be operational within the coming months.

“Wishlist is proud to have invested $130,000 into Paediatric Critical Care Inter-Hospital Transport Equipment to provide safe and timely transport of critically unwell children from outlying and regional hospitals to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital for specialised care,” Ms Rowe said.

“Currently, transport of children relies heavily on a team dispatched from Brisbane which can take up to eight hours on average. In an intensive care scenario, these critical hours and minutes, can make all the difference.

HeliMods innovative stretcher bridge supporting critical medical equipment on a patient’s bed.

“With the help of this stretcher bridge and associated equipment, a patient will soon be able to be put on a stretcher and intensive care staff can secure a ventilator, monitor and other life-saving equipment to provide the best care in transit.”

This will also avoid any hazards such as pulling lines or tubes while the patient and teams are mobile.

“This equipment purchase was only made possible by the generous supporters of 92.7 Mix FM’s Give Me 5 For Kids appeal, which runs for the month of June each year,” Ms Rowe added.

In its first year, the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit treated over 300 children. More than 40 children were from outside the Sunshine Coast region, including many from Central Queensland. Another 42 were treated from areas around Gympie, Noosa and Maleny.

HeliMods first developed the stretcher bridge for application in air ambulance helicopters, which has been implemented by major air ambulance operators globally, including Ornge in Canada. However, SCUH will be the first hospital to use the technology on the ground nationally.

“The SCUH team came to us looking for a solution and we were absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to apply our design to meet the needs of our local hospital,” Mr Shrapnel added.