PETS operates out of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne. PETS brings the highly specialized, world-class resources of paediatric intensive care to critically ill children in Victoria and beyond providing safe, expert, emergency inter-hospital retrieval to a paediatric intensive care unit.
An equally vital part of PETS activity is the provision of specialist advice to doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel on the resuscitation of severely ill children.
PETS leadership team consists of a medical director and a senior nurse clinician. They are supported by the PETS administrator. Daily clinical operations are lead by PETS Duty Consultants who are senior medical specialists in paediatric intensive care.
PETS closely cooperates with the Newborn Emergency Transport Service and the Perinatal Emergency Referral Service under the leadership of the Director Paediatric, Infant and Perinatal Emergency Referral.
Responsibility for clinical advice and retrieval operations lies with the Duty PETS Consultant, supervising the PETS teams. All retrievals are performed by a PICU doctor and a PETS nurse or by a PICU doctor and a paramedic. Medical staff are either experienced registrars (>4 years training in paediatrics, intensive care, anaesthesia or emergency medicine) with extra training in retrieval medicine or, in some highly complex retrievals such as transport on extracorporeal life-support (ECMO), they are senior ICU specialists from the RCH PICU.
PETS nurses are very experienced nursing staff with a strong background in looking after critically ill children as well as in retrieval nursing. They have undertaken a 1-year post-graduate specialist course in PICU nursing, attended a PETS Workshop, Air Ambulance Orientation, and completed a Competency Package. Many nurses have also completed the Introduction to Aeromedical Retrieval Course through Monash University and the Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS) Course.
Victoria has an area of 227,600 square km (87,884 square miles, roughly the size of the United Kingdom) and a population of 5.4 million, of whom 4 million live in greater Melbourne. 1.2 million of the 5 million are children (< 17 years). Victorian PETS covers all of Victoria, southern New South Wales and northern Tasmania. The total population of this area is about 6 million (approx. 1.5 million children), living within 600 km of the base of operations. On occasion, PETS may also retrieve children from other paediatric ICUs in Australia for treatment available only at the RCH Melbourne.
Tertiary paediatric services in Victoria are located at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and at Monash Medical Centre (MMC), both in Melbourne. Large general hospitals are located in regional cities and in central and suburban Melbourne. Many of these have paediatric departments and paediatric wards, with senior and junior paediatric medical staff, but not tertiary paediatric services. Smaller towns around the state usually lack specialist paediatric facilities; hospitals in these towns are staffed by general practitioners.
In 1976, a Neonatal Emergency Transport Service (NETS), based at the Royal Women’s Hospital, began transporting ill newborn babies from hospitals around Victoria to tertiary neonatal intensive care units in the Royal Women’s, Royal Children’s, Mercy Maternity and Queen Victoria Hospitals in Melbourne, immediately reducing mortality and morbidity rates in Victorian newborns.
A paediatric emergency transport service, based at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, subsequently began operations in 1979, retrieving 46 patients in that year. In 2011, PETS received over 1000 phone referrals and retrieved more than 450 critically ill children.
In November 2011, the Royal Children’s Hospital moved into a new, purpose-built facility, next door to the old hospital. In the process, NETS, PERS (the Perinatal Emergency Referral Service) and PETS moved into a joint office. A single point of telephone access was established for NETS, PETS, and PERS in April 2012. The three services are continuing to work towards the amalgamation of clinical operations in the future.
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Telephone +61 3 9345 5522
50 Flemington Road Parkville
Victoria 3052 Australia