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Blood becoming ‘available at all times’ for trauma patients on Vancouver Island

Island Health and B.C. Emergency Health Services announce partnership
B.C. Emergency Health Services and Island Health have announced a partnership that will make blood for transfusions readily available for air ambulance paramedics. (Photo submitted)

Blood for transfusions for trauma patients on Vancouver Island is more accessible now thanks to an agreement between Island Health and B.C. Emergency Health Services.

According to a BCEHS press release, the health authority and the body responsible for first-response medical care and patient transportation have entered into a partnership that will make “pre-hospital” blood for those critically wounded available at all times on the BCEHS air ambulance situated at Parksville, where previously it was only accessible via Vancouver International Airport.

Officials said the agreement was necessary, given how critical accessibility to blood can be in emergency situations.

“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, in the press release. “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, Island Health medical lead for transfusion medicine, said in the release that the blood is prepared at NRGH by lab technologists and stored in special temperature-controlled, secure coolers. If the blood isn’t used within four days, the unopened coolers are returned to NRGH to prevent waste, and fresh units of blood are provided.

“At BCEHS, we’re always looking for ways to improve pre-hospital emergency care for British Columbians, whether they’re in downtown Victoria or a remote Gulf Island,” said Dr. Mike Christian, BCEHS chief medical officer, in the press release. “We’re so pleased to partner with Island Health on this innovative program that will allow our critical care paramedics to give trauma patients life-saving blood transfusions as quickly as possible when minutes and seconds count.”

READ ALSO: Island’s first dedicated air ambulances based in Nanaimo area

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