Norman Regional’s newest ambulance, the Mobile Intensive Care Unit – or MICU - is pictured outside the HealthPlex hospital.
Norman has gotten some serious wheels. The community is home to the state’s largest and most state-of-the-art Mobile Intensive Care Unit or MICU, a semi-truck-sized ambulance specially developed to transport critically ill patients.
The MICU will primarily be used for transferring critical care patients from one facility to another – such as from Norman Regional Hospital to the HealthPlex specialty hospital or from a rural hospital to a Norman Regional facility, said Eddie Sims, EMSStat manager and paramedic.
Also when conditions make it impossible for medical helicopters to fly, the MICU is there, able to transport patients in practically any type of weather. It also has a range of more than 700 miles on a tank of fuel (more than double that of a typical ambulance) because it has a 100 gallon fuel tank.
The MICU also has radio equipment that allows EMSStat paramedics to communicate with any hospital or public safety officials in Oklahoma as well as hospitals in neighboring states.
The MICU could be described as an Intensive Care Unit on wheels – everything needed to care for the most fragile patients is found in the ambulance. It is also safer for medical staff since all crew members can be seated in the cab when responding to an emergency call, Sims said.
“This is especially true for long distance Neonatal Intensive Care Unit transfers where there are NICU staff which travel with us,” Sims said. “The MICU will also have more room to work on the patient.”
Not only will the MICU enhance an already stellar critical transport system in Norman, it will also benefit local, rural communities, Sims said. For instance, the MICU will allow a patient in a local hospital ICU who is being monitored by a Norman Regional physician to be transferred quickly and safely to a Norman Regional location if needed.
The MICU cost around $300,000. It was funded through private donations from local citizens and businesses and a $146,000 grant from the federal government, said Marilyn Geiger, director of the Norman Regional Health Foundation. In addition to the Foundation, major supporters of this project were the Norman Physician Hospital Organization and the Norman Regional Auxiliary, she said.