AirLife Utah 3 will now carry whole blood on board

AirLife Utah 3 will now carry whole blood on board

27-Sep-2023 Source: Air Methods

AirLife Utah 3 is proud to announce that it now carries and can administer whole blood on board every air medical transport. Having whole blood aboard their AS350 helicopter allows their industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional life-saving care in emergency situations when every minute counts.

“Whole blood is the gold standard for blood delivery,” said Erik Bornemeier, account executive with Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the country and the parent company of AirLife Utah. “It is the best product for the human body, offering better and faster outcomes for the patient.”

Every unit of whole blood provides red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and clotting factors for superior outcomes for patients suffering from trauma or hemorrhagic shock. It is particularly valuable in rural areas where there may be limited access to donated blood. Since AirLife Utah carries its own blood supply, its clinicians can administer it in-flight while preserving the receiving hospital’s stock.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that whole blood transfusions improve the 30-day survival rate of patients suffering from hemorrhagic shock by 60 percent. The earlier patients receive whole blood, the better their outcomes, showing the significance of pre-hospital transfusion. Moderately to severely injured patients, including those with head injuries, particularly benefit from whole blood transfusions.

“AirLife Utah is committed to early activation in trauma settings to make the greatest impact on the citizens and visitors to Cedar City and the surrounding counties in southern Utah,” said Cody Allen, flight paramedic with AirLife Utah. “Local EMS ground crews activating air medical transport early on, prior to arriving at the scene of a severe trauma, is a crucial component to getting this resource to the community.”

The crew was thankful to have whole blood on board when they recently treated a severely injured person who was on a blood thinning medication. While blood thinners can be necessary due to certain health conditions, they can also lead to faster blood loss in traumatic injuries.

“Having whole blood on board means the people of our community have access to critical lifesaving interventions in trauma scenarios,” said Allen. “This is ideal for the type of injuries we see due to the outdoor nature of our area and state as a whole. We can administer this resource immediately at the scene, then the patient can be flown directly to a higher-level trauma center for definitive surgery and further long-term care.”

The benefits of administering whole blood were accentuated during World War I and in the early stages of World War II. According to the National Institutes of Health, the ability to separate blood into its different components was developed in 1940, and it became more common to administer blood products due, in part, to the improved ability to store them. However, blood components don’t carry oxygen as well as whole blood, and during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the military brought whole blood transfusion back into favor. Doctors found that using warm whole blood allowed trauma patients to recover faster and live longer. Additionally, using universal, low-titer O blood is not only safe in both children and adults, but it also eliminates the time needed to test patients for blood type when every minute counts in an emergency.

All AirLife Utah clinicians have at least three years of experience in an emergency or intensive care setting before joining a flight crew. They receive ongoing advanced training, and every nurse and paramedic has access to Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Air Methods Ascend is available to medical personnel across the country.

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