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Children's ambulance goal met

Specialized vehicle will be based here

POSTED: July 14, 2012 5:30 p.m.
Jim Dean/

The new Children’s ambulance was on scene for a fundraiser July 9.

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An anniversary dinner at a Cumming restaurant helped meet a goal of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Forsyth.

Tam’s Backstage restaurant donated all proceeds from its seventh anniversary dinner, which was held July 9, to the Children’s pediatric ambulance fund.

On Friday, Beth Buursema, community liaison with the facility, said the event raised a little more than $3,000.

“We do have the totals … and we have dotted all the ‘I’s’ and it will get us to the $750,000 mark,” Buursema said.

The $750,000 covers the cost of a specialized pediatric ambulance, which will be housed full time in Forsyth County to transport local children and those from other northeast Georgia areas, such as Dawson, Hall and Lumpkin counties.

“That [$750,000] of course covers the ambulance, all the equipment, maintenance, staffing and will get us covered with staff seven days a week as opposed to just five,” she said.

In anticipation of reaching the mark, Children’s staff bought the vehicle earlier this summer. It arrived at the first of July.

“Its big debut was the [Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade] on July 4,” Buursema said. “And it’s been in use every day since July Fourth.”

She said the vehicle will be used to take children from the immediate care area of the Forsyth Children’s site, which opened last June at the Avenue on Peachtree Parkway, and hospitals such as Northside-Forsyth and Emory Johns Creek, to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals.  

“That’s why we say we work so closely with all the hospitals, because we do,” Buursema said. “We’ve had parents tell us that they feel our transport team are superheroes when they come walking down the halls of hospitals in their red suits, so that’s very nice.”

She noted that the vehicle won’t be used to respond to 911 calls.

“Our ambulances do not respond to the scene of an accident, only our helicopters go to the scene,” she said. “So if you called 911, you would still have an EMS ambulance come and then the EMS asks where you want to be transported.

“Say you go to your pediatrician and an emergency happens there, our ambulance would go to the pediatrician’s office just like it would to a hospital.”

Buursema said the specialized vehicles are needed because medical needs of children in crisis are so different from those of adults.

“With kids, everything’s based on their height and weight and all the equipment needs to be precise and cater to their growing bodies,” she said. “It’s totally different specialized care.”

Buursema said she and other Children’s at Forsyth leaders have been overwhelmed by the support the ambulance fund has received.

Numerous businesses and individuals have contributed to the fund since it was started just a year ago.

Among them was the vehicle’s largest donor, the Bagwell family, which owns American Proteins and contributed $360,000.

Buursema said as a result the ambulance has the American Proteins logo on its side.

“All of our ambulances are named for the company or organization that has raised the money to cover the actual body of the ambulance,” she said, noting that she’s surprised to have reached $750,000 so soon.

“I  never thought in a million years when we kicked this off just a year ago that we would be able to not only celebrate the milestone of our one-year anniversary, but also that we made it to that $750,000 goal,” she said.

But fundraising efforts will continue, Buursema noted, as leaders hope to reach at least $1 million to secure long-term staffing and maintenance for the vehicle.

“For anyone who feels passionate about the ambulance, we are still definitely taking those funds and will continue to just grow that fund to make sure that the staff continues to stay here,” she said.

 

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