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MedStar unveils two ambulances

One specially designed for children, high-risk pregnancies

Northwest MedStar showed off two new ambulances Tuesday, including one specially designed to carry children and women with high-risk pregnancies.

The vehicles — which will replace ambulances MedStar had been leasing from ambulance service provider AMR — complement the nonprofit’s airplane and helicopter transport services.

Terri Tickner, a MedStar nurse who specializes in prenatal emergencies and pediatrics, said the new ambulance will make trips easier on sick or injured children.

“These are kids who are really in pain,” she said.

MedStar’s ambulances don’t race to crash scenes; instead, they might be used to transport a sick child from a rural community to specialty care in Spokane. MedStar bought the vehicles for about $300,000; a charitable donation from the Children’s Miracle Network helped with the purchase of the pediatric ambulance.

The ambulances are built on the 14-foot chassis of a GMC Savanna, powered by a G4500 diesel, said INHS spokeswoman Nicole Stewart. One design improvement is safety seats for staff that allow the nurse and respiratory therapist on board to easily treat a patient while wearing a seat belt. The ambulances are expected to be driven often in the winter when weather keeps MedStar’s helicopters grounded.

Other improvements include an air compressor to blend air with oxygen at precise levels for newborn babies; a safer design that, in case of a collision or rollover, keeps the ambulance from crushing the patient and crew; and even a 17-inch flat-panel television with a DVD player and movies to help keep children humored during painful and sometimes long trips.

The new ground ambulances are part of a large equipment upgrade this year for MedStar. Later this summer the organization expects delivery of three new airplanes designed to fly patients between hospitals.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.