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Blood on board Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust helicopters and road vehicles reaches life-saving milestone



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A milestone 1,000 days carrying blood on board its helicopters and road vehicles has been reached by Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT).

More than 130 patients have received blood transfusions from the helicopter emergency medical service's critical care teams since the charity first started carrying blood products on March 19, 2019.

Previously, patients who suffered blood loss were given a saline solution, which, although effective, does not carry oxygen or help with clotting. EHAAT's helicopters and rapid response vehicles (RRVs) now carry packed red blood cells of blood group O negative, meaning they can be used on any patient. When needed, these are given with plasma, the other major component of human blood.

Blood transfusions can be administered at the scene of an accident by Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust's helicopter and rapid response vehicle crews (simulated photo)
Blood transfusions can be administered at the scene of an accident by Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust's helicopter and rapid response vehicle crews (simulated photo)

Laurie Phillipson, the charity's head of clinical development and blood project lead, said: “Together they enable our pre-hospital critical care teams to provide a blood transfusion rapidly and safely at the scene of an incident.

"This can be a life-saving intervention for the most seriously injured and is another example of how EHAAT is bringing innovative care to the patient’s side."

The 1,000-day milestone, reached on December 13, would not have been achieved without support from the laboratory and transfusion team at Harlow's Princess Alexandra Hospital, who provide the blood, and the volunteer drivers and bikers of the Essex Voluntary Blood Service (EVBS), who deliver the blood daily to EHAAT’s airbases at North Weald and Earls Colne.

EVBS chair Carol Weller said: “Over the last two years we've all worked very hard to make sure EHAAT has blood whenever they need it, night or day, even throughout the pandemic. It's been an absolute honour for me to work so closely with such an amazing team of men and women who I am proud to call my EHAAT colleagues.”

Stocks are replaced daily and replenished as required. The blood is delivered and stored in special insulated boxes that keep it at a cool temperature for over 24 hours. When the blood is required, it is warmed to body temperature to make it safe to administer. If unused after 24 hours it is returned to PAH for use elsewhere, preventing any wastage.

On average it costs £500 to help one patient in need of blood. EHAAT launched its ‘Blood on Board Appeal’ in March which raised just over £23,000, but it needs continued help to secure blood on board. To make a donation visit https://www.ehaat.org.



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