Air ambulance now carrying blood to save more lives

Dr David Cookson accepts a blood delivery from one of the Blood Bikers. EMN-170920-130821001
Dr David Cookson accepts a blood delivery from one of the Blood Bikers. EMN-170920-130821001

People suffering a medical emergency are in safer hands with the news the county’s ambucopter is to carry blood supplies on board.

The Lincs and Notts Air Abulance can now undertake on-site blood transfusions for the first time.

They say this will ‘significantly enhance the pre-hospital critical care that our crew can offer at the scene of incidents or accidents, giving patients a better chance of recovery from some of the most devastating injuries’.

The ambucopter is one of only six air ambulance charities in the UK able to offer on-site blood transfusions.

Dr David Cookson, the lead doctor overseeing the implementation of the blood on board project, explained: “Recent advances in availability and affordability of devices to keep and administer blood mean it is now possible for blood transfers to take place outside of a hospital environment, administered by the 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 said: “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 Air Ambulance can now carry and administer blood.”

Blood is carried by the Ambucopter in specially-designed thermostatically-controlled boxes, together with a machine to warm it to the correct temperature. This will be administered to patients suffering from dangerously-low blood pressure and who have or are suspected to have significant bleeding, vastly increasing their chances of survival.

Paul Bagwell, chairman of Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes Service, said: “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.”

The move was made possible by a £16,394 donation from the Henry Surtees Foundation which paid for the training and kit required for the crew to undertake the complex procedure - which predominantly takes place in hospitals.

Leonora Surtees-Martell, daughter of the late John Surtees CBE said: “My father spent most of his life chasing time round the race tracks of the world.

“He knew that every second counted and none more so than for the Air Ambulance when accidents or illnesses occur. The service that they provide is vital.”