1st pediatric trauma center in Valley to open

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. A year ago, 5-year-old Jamie Jessop accidentally jumped off her backyard jungle gym with a dog leash around her neck.

"She had taken the collar off of our dog and wrapped it around her neck," said Mardee Jessop, Jamie's mom. "It caught on one of the notches on the rope and she accidentally hung herself."

She suffocated and her heart stopped. Mardee Jessop performed CPR. Paramedics brought her to nearby Antelope Valley Hospital, but the doctors told her they didn't have the equipment to keep the 5-year-old alive.

The closest pediatric trauma center was more than hour away by ambulance and Jamie was too fragile to airlift.

"There hasn't been any pediatric trauma center to accommodate the greater San Fernando Valley since its existence," said Dr. Stephen Shew, director of the new pediatric trauma center at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

The ER will be staffed with pediatric specialists 24/7. The suites contain specialized equipment designed to fit a small child and medication pre-measured for every size and weight.

When a child is traumatically injured, the faster you can get treatment to them the more likely they will survive.

"And if they're not instituted then you have poor outcomes," said Dr. Shew.

Fortunately, thanks to pediatric surgeons at Northridge Hospital, Jamie survived. But her mom hopes the new trauma center will save other parents from suffering the same ordeal.

The pediatric trauma center opens next Monday. Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon backed the bill that established the initial funding. In the late 80s, his young son died following a car accident in the Valley.

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