Air ambulance carries more lifesaving blood

By Barrie Hudson - 23 November 2022

CharityHealth
  • Aircrew, from left, Critical Care Doctor Sammy Batt-Rawden, Pilot Fin Collins and Critical Care Paramedic Dan Tucker with the increased bloods now carried on board the aircraft

    Aircrew, from left, Critical Care Doctor Sammy Batt-Rawden, Pilot Fin Collins and Critical Care Paramedic Dan Tucker with the increased bloods now carried on board the aircraft

Wiltshire Air Ambulance has increased the number of red blood cell units in its aircraft and critical care cars.

The charity says this means it can provide a level of care comparable with local hospitals.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance began carrying blood in 2015, the year when it became a standalone service operating its Bell 429 helicopter. 

Critical care paramedics and doctors have had use of two units of O Negative red blood cells and four units of plasma Lyoplas, which is freeze dried plasma in powder form. 

Now the clinical team has added two units of O Positive to its operation, ensuring the aircrew can administer up to eight units of blood products to patients, which is the same quantity as they would receive if they attended one of the larger hospitals in the region. 

So far this year Wiltshire Air Ambulance has given 21 patients blood products, with 25 units of Lyoplas and 39 packed red blood cell units administered. 

Paul Rock, critical care paramedic at Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Blood Lead, said: “By doubling our capacity to four units of red blood cells, along with our four units of plasma, it means we can give the sickest patients the same blood transfusion as they would receive in the emergency department of hospitals, such as Royal United in Bath and Great Western in Swindon. 

“We can ensure we give patients the right blood wherever they are and also help to preserve the National Blood Transfusion supplies, which recently experienced a shortage.”

He added: “We are well supported by the North Bristol Trust and Freewheelers and we can’t thank them enough. Without their service, we couldn’t do what we do for the people of Wiltshire, Bath and surrounding areas.” 

Freewheelers is a registered charity providing a free out-of-hours motorcycle courier service of blood products to hospitals and air ambulance charities in the South West. 

 

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