To help answer common questions regarding the Critical Transport service that Western offers, we have put together some Frequently Asked Questions to help streamline the process.

What is critical transport?

Western is proud to provide Calgary’s only critical patient transportation service. This service is provided to referring hospitals in and around Calgary to transport cases to Western for continued care. Critical Transports are performed by the critical care specialist, critical care resident (or occasionally hospitalist) on duty, a critical care technician +/- technician assistants (depending on case).

What cases are eligible for transportation?

The Critical Transport service is intended for critical cases – these may include cases that are cardiovascularly unstable, on oxygen, on multiple CRIs, on vasopressors, etc. These are cases where owner transportation is not feasible because of the care the patient needs. The service is not intended to be a convenience transportation service. Attempts should be made to stabilize patients before contacting Western for transport. Transportation is only provided to Western.
Some examples of cases that are appropriate for critical transport:

  • Respiratory distress cases requiring ongoing oxygen therapy
  • Intubated patients, including those requiring mechanical ventilation
  • Patients requiring vasopressor therapy to maintain blood pressure
  • Post-arrest patients

What services can be provided during transport?

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Continuous rate infusions
  • CPR
  • Manual ventilation
  • Vasopressor therapy
  • Blood transfusions

How much does it cost?

We ask clinicians to estimate transportation fees of approx. $1500 (within business hours). This fee includes transportation, emergency fees for both doctor and technician, and initial stabilization back at Western. The Western team will provide an estimate for the transportation as well as what is anticipated for ongoing care. We will ask that the owners leave a deposit based off that estimate before the team departs Western.

When is the Critical Transport service available?

In general the service is available to transport patients during business hours (9-5), seven days a week. We endeavor to offer this service after hours as well (generally up until 10pm at least). Transportation after 10pm may be available on a case-by case basis and is up to the discretion of the criticalist on call. Due to potential unforeseen circumstances we recommend not promising transportation until you have spoken with a clinician at Western regarding availability. There will be rare times where transportation will not be available, such as if we already have a patient on the ventilator. If the case requires mechanical ventilation, we will try to be available to pick these cases up at any time as much as possible.

What is the protocol for arranging transportation during the working day (8:00 AM-5:00 PM)?

If you have a case that you feel needs critical transportation, please call Western and ask to speak with the criticalist or critical care resident regarding a critical transport. The criticalist will discuss the case and determine if a critical transport is appropriate. The transportation quote of $1000 and an estimate beyond that will be provided, and we will ask that the owners call to give their information to the receptionist and leave a deposit.

What is the protocol for arranging transportation after hours (after 5:00 PM)?

Please call Western and ask to speak to the emergency doctor regarding a possible critical transport. The doctor will ask for a full history, summary of exam, diagnostics, etc. to determine the eligibility. The transportation quote of $1000 will be reiterated. The emergency doctor will need to call and speak with the criticalist or critical care resident on call. If the criticalist agrees that transportation is appropriate, the emergency doctor will contact you and go over the estimate (if this has not already been done). We will ask that the owner contact Western and leave an initial deposit before transportation. An updated estimate will be provided once more information is obtained if necessary.

How far will the Critical Transport service travel?

In general the transport service will operate within a range of approx. 45 km from Western. If you are interested in transportation outside this range please call Western before discussing with the owners. Availability will be based on day/time, case load and weather. An additional fee may apply for extended travel.

How long does it take?

Transportation timing will depend somewhat on time of day. Most of the time we can leave fairly straight away. Please be advised that case load at Western will also affect timing – especially if there multiple critical cases already in progress. After hours timing will likely be longer (potentially as long as 1-1.5 hours from the time of confirmation) as the doctor and technician will be driving in from home. If it is possible to notify us in sufficient time as to miss rush hour traffic this is preferable.

What information should the referring clinician give the owners?

The estimate as provided by Western. Please ask the owners call Western to give their information and leave a deposit.

We ask that you inform the owners of the risks associated with transportation, obtain a CPR code.

To give us a chance to evaluate the patient at your practice we ask that the owners not be present in the treatment area when we arrive. We will discuss the case with the owners once we are back at Western and have fully evaluated the patient and go over plan and estimate. This evaluation can easily take 1-2 hours.

What other information do we ask from the referring veterinarian?

Patient weight, CPR status, copies of records (copies of diagnostic results and treatment sheets; full records when completed)

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