Illustration courtesy Nebraska State Patrol
When the Nebraska State Patrol was asked to transport life-saving medicine to a hospital in Colorado as soon as possible, it didn’t get many other details about the situation.
“All they tell us is there’s a child that really needs this and it’s a critical moment,” said State Patrol Lt. Matt Sutter.
The patrol’s efforts were part of a collaboration that included seven troopers, one pilot and dozens of other professionals working together to transport the medication from Nebraska Medicine in Omaha to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora in about 5½ hours.
At about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Children’s Hospital requested a rare medication from Nebraska Medicine to treat amoeba-related infections, said Taylor Wilson, Nebraska Medicine spokesman.
But flying it to Colorado wasn’t an option, since it was too late for commercial flights and the weather, with scattered thunderstorms, low cloud cover and poor visibility, was too rough for other air-transport options.
Nebraska Medicine reached out to the State Patrol to see if it could help relay the medicine 540 miles to the hospital.
While the patrol had transported other medical necessities before, this request was for the longest distance in the most urgent time frame, Sutter said.
The original plan was to transport the package to the Colorado State Patrol. The Nebraska State Patrol used the relay method to keep units in their area and eliminate refueling time.
Troopers lit up the roads with lights and sirens as the relay made its way across the state.
The first unit picked up the package at about 10:15 and handed it off to the Lincoln unit at the Platte River. Each state trooper traveled through his or her territory and handed the package off to the next car in the relay. Things were going according to plan, Sutter said.
“There was the panic factor of ‘What do we do when we get to Colorado?’” but the situation was too urgent to let emotions take over, he said.
Sutter tracked the package across Nebraska while checking the weather and contacting air-transport options. Weather conditions improved in western Nebraska, which provided some hope.