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DES MOINES, Iowa – An ambulance ride is scary for anyone, but it’s especially troubling for children.

A new pediatric ambulance went into service at Blank Children’s Hospital on June 27. Assistant Chief of EMS for Iowa EMS Alliance David Edgar said, “It extends Blank Children`s Hospital expertise out throughout the state and even in northern Missouri and sometimes into southern Minnesota.”

Donations paid for the $350,000 project. It was built at Lifeline Emergency Vehicles in Sumner, Iowa. A committee worked on the design with children in mind. “When you have a child that`s very scared, apprehensive, then distracting is one of the important things to calm them down,” said Edgar.

A unique fiber optic lighting system shows stars, shooting stars and fireworks on the ceiling to provide distraction. “I know we had a recent transport where it was a patient that needed calming. They used the ceiling to do that and it helped the entire trip,” said Edgar.

The back of the ambulance is full of pediatric size equipment and a blanket warmer. Another unique feature is the cab, which can carry up to four family members. It has a camera allowing them to see what’s going on in the back.

Edgar said, “We have found many times a parent might have other kids with them and not a way to get down to the hospital, and so you can imagine sending your child off in an ambulance and not being able to go with them. That feature is very important. It was one of the key features in the re-design.”

The new pediatric ambulance also includes several safety features. It travels around the state, including rural roads, at all hours of the night and day. A guard on the front of the cab protects it from accidents involving animals. “This guard, would allow if you had an incident with a deer or animal, you would be able to continue on without disabling the vehicle.”

The ambulance also has a FLAIR system or forward looking infrared. “It allows you to monitor infrared at night, so we can see three times farther than just your headlights. And it identifies animals or people and will actually send an alert and box them in yellow on a screen in the ambulance,” said Edgar.

The previous ambulance was on the road for ten years. It transported more than 5,000 patients 500,000 miles. The new ambulance has transported 163 patients since the end of June.