Phi Air Medical to start carrying blood in June

Virginia Blood Services will be providing Phi Air Medical with blood for air list patients.

Brian Katcher, air medical base supervisor in Front Royal, said AirCare 4 in Front Royal will begin carrying blood in June. They will be carrying three units of blood, type O negative and type O positive, on every patient flight.

“It will give us another tool when presented with trauma patients who have significant bleeding, internally or externally,” he said.

According to a Virginia Blood Services news release, 190,000 patients die of trauma in the U.S. each year, 45 percent of those due to massive hemorrhage, and 70 percent die in the first six hours following injury.

Katcher added that availability of blood on the aircraft has the potential to save lives.

“Trauma patients die from blood loss. They require rapid transport to a trauma center where they can be treated by trauma surgeons. The most serious of trauma patients receive a significant amount of blood during this process,” he said. “If we can get them some of the blood that they require before we get them to the trauma center, their chance of survival will increase.”

The release also states that there are approximately 850 medical helicopters in the U.S. but only 22 carry packed red blood cells and plasma. Phi Air Medical operates 11 of these aircrafts, serving five areas in Virginia: Front Royal, Leesburg, Fredericksburg, Manassas and Weyers Cave.

Katcher added they have always had the ability to administer blood products.

“In the past we have relied upon the hospital that was transferring the patient out to a trauma facility to provide us with blood from their blood bank,” he said. “This will allow us to also administer blood to patients who we pick up from the scene of an incident who are in need of blood while en-route to a trauma center.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com