Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance (LNAA) has announced that after months of preparation and training, it is now carrying blood onboard its ‘Ambucopter’, enabling crew members to undertake on-site blood transfusions for the very first time. The UK HEMS charity said that this will significantly enhance the pre-hospital critical care it can offer at the scene of incidents or accidents, giving patients a better chance of recovery from devastating injuries.
Dr David Cookson, the lead doctor overseeing the implementation of the project, explained: “Recent advances in availability and affordability of devices to keep and administer blood mean that it is now possible for blood transfers to take place outside of a hospital environment, administered by the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance crew. Patients who are bleeding heavily and who have very low blood pressure are often not able to get sufficient oxygen to their vital organs. In these instances, giving the patient blood, as well as other treatments, can help the patient to continue to deliver oxygen around their body which buys them more time before they get to a hospital.”
Charity CEO Karen Jobling added: “The blood is supplied by Lincoln County Hospital and delivered daily by the Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikers to our airbase. Our crew have now undergone the specialist training required meaning the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance can now carry and administer blood.”
Two units of type-O blood is carried by the helicopter in specially designed thermostatically controlled boxes, which maintain a temperature of two to six degrees centigrade and are equipped with a data logger and warning light. A fluid warming unit brings the blood up to the correct temperature instantly to administer to patients suffering from dangerously low blood pressure and who have or are suspected to have significant bleeding.
Paul Bagwell, chairman of Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes Service, said: “To be able to include the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance in our service is an honour, providing daily transport will enable blood to be delivered to those that need it and potentially could be the difference between life and death. By returning any unused blood back to Lincoln County Hospital, we ensure that it remains in perfect condition and prevents any wastage of this essential resource.”
LNAA noted that the move was made possible thanks to a donation from the Henry Surtees Foundation, which has paid for the extensive training and kit required for the crew to undertake the complex procedure.