Nicole Coutu, a respiratory therapist and a member of the Acute Care Transport Services (ACTS) team at SickKids Hospital, doesn’t always know what to expect when she begins a shift. But one thing she’s certain of is that she will be surrounded by a highly skilled and supportive team – and fellow Michener alumni.
Nicole graduated from Michener’s Respiratory Therapy program in 2013, and she is one of 10 Michener alumni who are part of the ACTS team at SickKids. “I just finished the final phase of the training for the transport team,” she says. “I have so much respect for the team and for the people who have helped me through the process. And many were Michener alumni.”
The ACTS team at SickKids is a group of more than 25 heath care professionals, including nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists, who travel by air or ground throughout Ontario providing stabilization and safe transport for neonatal and paediatric patients. “We’re essentially an ICU on wheels,” Nicole says.
The team manages over 50% of the paediatric transports in Ontario and reaches community hospitals that may not have the expertise or equipment to manage a neonatal and paediatric emergency. The team transports patients back to SickKids or another facility in the area, often while stabilizing a patient in a helicopter, plane or back of an ambulance.
“We pick up the sickest of the sick,” says Sabrina Persaud, a 1993 Michener Respiratory Therapy alumnus and a preceptor for new staff who join the SickKids ACTS team.
Sabrina recognizes how unique the SickKids transport team is since not all transport teams in Ontario include respiratory therapists.
“When a call comes in to the team with a challenging respiratory case, a lot of the time the physician will ask to speak to the respiratory therapist,” says Sabrina. “It’s an opportunity for us to shine.”
When it comes to a sense of community, the Michener alumni on the ACTS team feel a strong connection with their fellow grads.
Anthony Iacolucci is another respiratory therapist on the team and a 1999 Michener grad. “Respiratory therapy is a small profession, so in transport work I get to bump into colleagues who were in my class and it’s like we’re right back into that collaborative atmosphere at Michener.”
For Anthony, the connection with former classmates and the familiar faces in the field enhance his work and make it easier to ask questions or get feedback on the job.
“That personal connection strips away a lot of the formality with colleagues, and I rely on those connections when we walk into unpredictable environments,” says Anthony. “For me, these connections are a key part of the group.”
To learn more about the ACTS team at SickKids, visit sickkids.ca/ACTS/.