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Blood products available on ambulance helicopters with new partnership

Patients who need life-saving blood transfusions can now receive treatment on air ambulances thanks to a new partnership.

Island Health and BC Emergency Health Services blood products are now available on all ambulance helicopters located in Parksville, according to a statement from the health services.

Blood transfusion services were only available on helicopters sent from Vancouver International Airport up until this point.

The blood is prepared at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and stored in temperature-controlled coolers, according to Dr. Jennifer Duncan, the medical lead for transfusional medicine at Island Health.

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She adds two units of blood are provided in the coolers. If they haven’t been used in four days, the unopened coolers are returned to the hospital and swapped out for two fresh units to prevent wastage.

The availability of blood will now make remote health care easier for crews.

“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.”

Health minister Adrian Dix said with blood transfusions, time is most important to saving lives.

“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,” added Dix.

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