Essex & Herts Air Ambulance to carry blood supplies
From today (March 20) Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) will carry blood supplies on board its helicopters and rapid response vehicles (RRVs), meaning that medics will now be able to give patients pre-hospital transfusions.
It is hoped that the development will provide a significant improvement in the care that can be provided to patients; a blood transfusion at the scene of an incident could be a life-saving intervention for those who suffer significant bleeding and blood loss.
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.
The packed red blood cells will be supplied daily from Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) 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 needed, it will be warmed to at least body temperature using a MEQU warmer, which costs approximately £3,000.
EHAAT clinical director Stuart Elms said: “This exciting new venture for EHAAT has been many months in preparation and will make a significant difference to the most critically injured patients in our region.
“We have been working closely with our partners at The Princess Alexandra Hospital and our colleagues from the EVBS to ensure a safe, continuous temperature-controlled supply of these vital products with a wish for zero waste.
“Traditionally patients have had blood lost replaced with saline which has many limitations when what they need is the oxygen-carrying capability and clotting factors of blood products.
“Based on our current caseload, we anticipate that we will need to provide blood products around once a week.
“Thank you to Nore Light Masonic Lodge number 35, for their kind donation which has paid for the MEQU blood warmer and four of the special cool bags we needed to purchase in order to carry blood supplies.”