Wiltshire Air Ambulance, August 24, 2015 - Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAACT) and Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC, based in Bristol) teamed up to fund the initiative.
Both services began carrying blood on their helicopter which will benefit seriously ill and injured patients in need of emergency blood transfusion.
Te two air ambulances are the first in the south west of England to carry the life saving liquid.
Emergency blood transfusions are likely to be given to patients who suffer life-threatening bleeding caused by trauma and some acute medical conditions.
The blood is collected daily from the North Bristol Trust Transfusion Laboratory at Southmead Hospital and delivered daily to WAACT’s Operations Centre in Devizes and GWAAC’s airbase in Filton by the charity Freewheelers EVS, which covers the south west. Additional deliveries can be made if required by the air crews.
If the blood is not used, it will be returned to Southmead Hospital by the volunteer blood bikers after 24 hours. The blood storage boxes maintain the temperature of the blood within very narrow limits for well over 24 hours. Any unused blood units are therefore able to be put back into the Southmead Hospital blood bank, preventing waste.
The blood, two units of O negative, is stored in a Credo blood box, an insulated container that maintains the blood within a narrow temperature range preventing damage and spoilage.
When blood is to be given to a patient it will be warmed from its cool storage temperature towards body temperature using a small portable device called a Belmont buddy lite Fluid Warmer.
The Credo blood box containing the units of blood can be switched from the helicopters to the Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV) used by WAACT and GWAAC Critical Care Paramedics, if needed.