Norton Children’s Hospital ‘Just for Kids’ Transport Team Marks 45 Years

After its busiest year ever, the Norton Children’s Hospital “Just for Kids” Transport Team is celebrating 45 years of service.

A fun way to support our transport heroes

Every June, the Wings for Kids Radio Controlled AirShow takes to the skies above E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. The family-friendly event raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to keep the “Just for Kids” Transport Team up to date with medical and technological advances.

When a new parent thinks of their child’s first trip by air, thoughts probably go to Disney World or the beach.

They never think it will be for lifesaving medical care. But thank goodness a service exists that can quickly get a child, even a premature baby, to pediatric specialists when they need it most.

After its busiest year ever, the Norton Children’s Hospital “Just for Kids” Transport Team is celebrating 45 years of service.

The transport team began as a single ambulance service for newborns in 1978. A handful of team members has grown to 35 staff people and a fleet of four ambulances and a helicopter. They also have access to an airplane for longer-distance transports.

Each three-member crew that transports a child consists of a registered nurse, respiratory therapist and EMT. They function as an extension of the physician’s hands and are equipped to provide specialized care while traveling between hospitals. They can transport patients anywhere in the continental U.S.

“The ambulances act as mobile intensive care units, enabling the team to shorten the time until a sick child can receive intensive care,” said Pennie Crady, director of transport services and EMS, Norton Healthcare. “This is a life-changer for children in rural and outlying areas.”

In 2022, the team answered nearly 3,000 calls from across Kentucky and Southern Indiana for young patients in need of critical care. That’s an average of eight calls per day.

“We have connected more families to the critical care they need at Norton Children’s Hospital than ever before,” Pennie said. “This accomplishment is a testament to the dedication and expertise that every member brings to the ‘Just for Kids’ Transport Team.”

Most of the team’s runs are handled by ambulance. In 2022, the team made nearly 2,500 runs by road. Another 509 transports were completed by helicopter, and four transports were by airplane.

“In my three decades of service on the transport team, I have had the privilege of caring for and transporting thousands of children,” said Donna M. Callahan, R.N., who has been with the team for 32 years and with Norton Children’s Hospital for 35 years. “These same children are now adults, and I am grateful and blessed to care for their children. I truly love my job and the care I am able to provide to the community.”

The Norton Children’s Hospital “Just for Kids” Transport Team vehicles and equipment were funded by generous donations from community members and supported by Speedway through the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation.