Vancouver Island air ambulance paramedics will now have full access to blood products to provide immediate care to trauma patients, thanks to a new partnership between Island Health and BC Emergency Health Services.
As a result of the new partnership, it means blood products will be available at all times on the BCEHS ambulance helicopter located in Parksville, enabling paramedics to provide life-saving blood transfusions to trauma patients in a more efficient manner.
Prior to the program launch, pre-hospital blood was not available to critical care paramedic crews based on Vancouver Island and was only available through crews dispatched from Vancouver International Airport.
“Time is of the essence when it comes to blood transfusions to help save lives,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This new service means paramedics have access to crucial blood products around the clock, full-time, so they can continue providing high-quality critical care when every minute can make a difference in a life-saving situation on the Island.”
Air ambulance paramedics will have full-time access to blood products, made available from the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
“Having full-time access to blood products out of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and storing them with our critical care paramedic crews will greatly improve our speed of delivery for isolated Vancouver Island communities, such as Bamfield, Tahsis or Port Renfrew,” said Kevin Lambert, Critical Care Paramedic and Paramedic Practice Educator for Vancouver Island. “We can arrive more quickly at a scene and start a transfusion much earlier while providing advanced care on the way to a trauma centre.”
Dr. Jennifer Duncan, Medical Lead for Transfusion Medicine at Island Health, says that the blood will be prepared at NRGH by laboratory technologists and stored in special temperature-controlled, secure coolers.
“Two units of blood are provided within the coolers and if they aren’t used within 4 days, the unopened secured coolers are returned to NRGH to prevent wastage, and two fresh units are provided,” Duncan outlines.