"Teddy Bear Air" was dispatched to Odessa recently to pick up a critically ill 22-month-old girl who had a tumor in her heart.

Most of the plane's special equipment was used: oxygen, a defibrillator, a ventillator, suction, a cardiac monitor and machines that constantly record vital signs and the amount of oxygen reaching vital organs.The plane also allows nurses to maintain constant contact with physicians on the ground.

Teddy Bear Air may sound soft and fluffy, but it is the only fully equipped air ambulance to be found between Phoenix and Florida. It is dedicated exclusively to transporting sick children between hospitals, spokesmen for Cook-Fort Worth Children's Medical Center said.

That means the fully retrofitted Beechcraft King Air 90 plane is a mobile intensive care unit that can't be used for anything else and that is ready to take off 24 hours a day.

Response time is 30 minutes to takeoff.

The intensive care transport of Cook-Fort Worth Children's Medical Center has six pilots, two for each eight-hour shift; teams of transport nurses including respiratory therapists; and neonatal, pediatric and maternal nurse specialists.

The fixed-wing plane is designed primarily for flights to places such as Wichita Falls, Odessa, San Angelo and Abilene to bring in tiny premature infants, babies born with major birth defects and children who develop rare diseases or are injured in automobile wrecks or other life-threatening accidents.

They are brought to Fort Worth for highly specialized pediatric care not available in most smaller cities.

"We are so excited," said Peggy Troy, vice president of nursing at Cook-Fort Worth Children's. "This plane is fully equipped and exactly what we wanted. We researched the market, and are convinced it will become the standard nationwide."

The hospital expects to use the plane 200 times a year.