After months of preparation and training, the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance is now carrying blood on board the Ambucopter, enabling the crew to undertake on-site blood transfusions for the very first time.
They are one of only six UK air ambulance charities to be able to offer on-site blood transfusions.
This will significantly enhance the pre-hospital critical care the crew can offer at the scene of incidents or accidents, giving patients a better chance of recovery from some of the most devastating injuries.
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 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.”
Blood is carried by the Ambucopter in specially designed thermostatically controlled boxes, together with a machine to warm it to the correct temperature to administer 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: “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.”
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Transfusion Practitioner Carol Richardson added: “Providing ‘emergency’ blood to the Ambucopter is a privilege and will undoubtedly save lives.
“We are so proud to be part of this exciting new venture with the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance.”
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 which until recently predominantly took place in hospitals.
Leonora Surtees-Martell, daughter of the late John Surtees CBE said: “Thanks to the magnificent fundraising efforts of the Henry Surtees Foundation and its supporters, the Charity have been able to provide £16,394.40 for Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance enabling them carry out roadside blood transfusions.
“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.”
For more information on the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance visit www.ambucopter.org.uk