Patients in Children’s Hospital’s 9-C ward enjoy an extra level of transport from Pittsburgh EMS.
Last spring, as part of an annual benefit for local charities, EMS paramedics Tony Konop and Steve O’Malley designed a wagon for the kids in the hematology and oncology department.
The wagon – resembling a Pittsburgh EMS ambulance – is used to roll little patients to treatments or to send them to the lobby on the way home.
This week, two more EMS wagons will be added to the fleet.
Named MEDKID 1, 2 and 3, each white and orange wagon sports flashing lights, a cozy seat, helmet, pretend radio and all the official EMS stickers.
“We put a horn on the new ones,” says Konop with a laugh. “I’m not sure Children’s will appreciate that! But they can take it off if they don’t like it.”
The first wagon – delivered last spring – was inspired by a little boy with cancer who wanted to be a paramedic for Halloween.
“He was ridiculously cute,” O’Malley says. “We put together a kit for him, and it didn’t look like enough, so we made a vest with patches, and that didn’t look like enough, so we did a helmet and some other things, and we presented it to him. And he really, really liked it.”
The second wagon came about when a mother approached Konop. Her young son had enjoyed the EMS wagon before he succumbed to his disease. She donated her son’s wagon to be repurposed for the hospital ward. The third wagon came from a donation by the family of EMS Chief Robert Farrow.
“We are very thankful to Pittsburgh Paramedics for donating the paramedic wagons,” says Mike Shulock, Child Life Specialist at Children’s Hospital. “Our patients love the blinking lights, the bell, and the way it’s decorated.”
The new wagons are sure to be as big a hit with the kids as the first.
“They’d take kids down in it to go home, and the kids wouldn’t want to get out of it,” O’Malley says. “They loved it. They would fight over it on occasion. From what I understand, some of the other floors want some now, too.”
The basement of EMS headquarters in Shadyside became a workshop of sorts where the handy paramedics worked on the wagons in their spare time.
“I’m just the idea guy – he’s the artist,” says Konop about his partner’s skills.
“My black boots have over spray on them – white and orange,” O’Malley says. “It’s crazy.”
Other patients will soon benefit from the two wagon masters. They are working on a more heavy-duty wagon for the Animal Rescue League. The name on that one will be the Waggin’ Wagon.