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Essex & Herts Air Ambulance to carry blood supplies

13 Mar Essex & Herts Air Ambulance to carry blood supplies

From March 20th 2019, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) will carry blood supplies on board its helicopters and Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs). This major development will provide a significant improvement in the care that can be provided to patients.

Being able to give a pre-hospital transfusion at the scene of an incident could be a life-saving intervention for patients suffering significant bleeding and blood loss. This early transfusion will significantly reduce the time lost in having to take a patient to a hospital to receive blood. Patients who have suffered blood loss are currently given a saline solution, which doesn’t carry oxygen or help with clotting of injuries.

The EHAAT helicopters and RRVs will carry packed red blood cells of blood group O Negative, meaning they can be used on any patient. When required, these will be given with plasma, the other major component of human blood. Together these can form an effective replacement for patients who have lost blood.

The packed red blood cells will be supplied daily from The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and be delivered to EHAAT’s Airbases at Earls Colne and North Weald by riders from Essex Voluntary Blood Service (EVBS). The blood will be replaced daily and replenished as required.

The blood will be delivered and stored in special cool boxes that keep the blood at a cool temperature for at least 24 hours. These are fitted with a data logger that indicates if the temperature has risen beyond safe limits. If unused after 24 hours the blood will be returned to blood donation system for use elsewhere, preventing any wastage of this precious commodity.

When the blood is required, it will be warmed to at least body temperature using a MEQU warmer, which costs approximately £3,000, to make it safe to administer to the patient and prevent unnecessary cooling of the patient.