Op-Ed: RSV is packing hospitals with sick kids, but it can be contained
Last month, the San Diego County Board of Public Health and Public Education voted unanimously to approve funding for new portable emergency trailers – called LifeSavers or PECOs – for use at local hospitals. Public health advocates say these portable emergency response vehicles are essential to protect children from infectious diseases, as well as to keep people safe in the event of a medical emergency.
“This is the only thing that’s been working,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during a conference about pediatric infectious disease preparedness, held Oct. 17 in San Diego.
He explained that in 1995, the CDC launched a three-year study to determine which methods were most effective at controlling childhood infectious diseases and which methods needed to be improved upon.
The results from this study revealed that PECOs – emergency response vans that can be used to transport patients from emergency rooms to a hospital – were both effective at protecting kids from infectious disease and saving lives.
But since then, many parents have asked for the PECO program to be expanded, so these life-saving vehicles have been implemented in at least 15 other California counties.
However, due to the complexity of PECOs today, the only way they can be used in San Diego County is if local hospitals – like Hillcrest, MiraCosta and Mission Hills hospitals – purchase a single PECO to use in the event of an extreme life-safety emergency at one of these facilities.
For those of you who have never heard of the portable emergency response vehicle (PECO), it is essentially a van on wheels. The PECO was originally developed in 1988 by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a means of transporting school children to their buses without having to risk their lives in the