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Great Western Air Ambulance now carrying blood on board

September 7, 2015

GWAAC is carrying blood on the helicopter and rapid response vehicles which will benefit seriously ill and injured patients in need of emergency blood transfusion.

The charity has teamed up with Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA) to fund the initiative. WAA is also carrying blood on its helicopter. This means that the two air ambulances are the first in the south west of England to carry blood.

It is estimated that this will benefit 2 – 4 patients a month.

GWWAC lead doctor Matt Thomas said:

“Blood is a precious life saving resource, by putting it on the air ambulance we are getting it to the right people at the right time. By having blood on the air ambulance we now have the ability to better stabilise patients with life-threatening bleeding and get them to hospital whereas before this may not have been the case.”

Emergency blood transfusions are likely to be used on patients who suffer life-threatening bleeding caused by trauma and some acute medical conditions.

The blood will be collected daily from the North Bristol Trust Transfusion Laboratory at Southmead Hospital and delivered to GWAAC’s airbase in Filton and WAA’s Operations Centre in Devizes by the charity Freewheelers EVS, which covers the south west. Additional deliveries can be made if required by the air crews.

If the blood is not used, it will be returned to Southmead Hospital by the volunteer blood bikers after 24 hours. The blood storage boxes maintain the temperature of the blood within in very narrow limits for well over 24 hours. Any unused blood units are therefore able to be put back into the Southmead Hospital blood bank, preventing waste.

Melanie Rowbottom, a trustee of Freewheelers EVS, said:

“Delivering blood supplies to air ambulances is a new venture for us and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Great Western Air Ambulance and Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

“We are excited to play our part in delivering a component of a service that could save many more lives, fully supported by the commitment of our members to make deliveries to the Air Ambulance bases 365 days a year.”

SWASFT’s deputy clinical director, Adrian South, said:

“SWASFT’s critical care specialist paramedics who work on the air ambulances receive additional training so they can bring even more clinical skills to the most seriously ill and injured patients. Along with critical care doctors, they are able to administer the blood. This new initiative to carry blood for transfusions on the two air ambulances will be of real benefit for patients in the south west.”

The blood, two units of O negative, will be stored in a Credo blood box, an insulated box that maintains the blood within a narrow temperature range preventing damage and spoilage.

When blood is to be given to a patient it will be warmed from its cool storage temperature towards body temperature using a small portable device called a Belmont buddy lite Fluid Warmer.

The Credo blood box containing the units of blood can be switched from the helicopter to the Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) used by GWAAC and WAA Critical Care Paramedics, if needed.

With thanks to www.helihub.com

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