Providing whole blood for an urban paramedical ambulance system

AbstractIntroduction

Hemorrhage is the second leading cause of death among urban trauma patients, and the provision of prehospital blood-based resuscitation can be lifesaving. We developed an efficient system to support blood-based resuscitation by an urban advanced life support ambulance system.

Methods

We worked with our state health department for permission for fire department paramedics to initiate blood transfusion and built protocols for field whole blood resuscitation. Our regional trauma center transfusion service provided 2?units of O positive, low-titer, leukoreduced whole blood in an internally monitored and sealed ice box weighing 10 pounds to the fire department paramedic supervisor. When notified, the supervisor transported the blood to the sites of anticipated need. Total blood use and wastage were recorded.

Results

Following two public hearings, we obtained state-wide approval for the initiation of emergency uncrossmatched blood transfusion by paramedics. Over a 1-year period beginning August 27, 2019, 160?units of whole blood were made available for use, and 51?units were transfused to 39 patients, 30 of whom were trauma patients. Other recipients include patients in shock from massive gastrointestinal, peripartum, or other suspected bleeding. Unused units were returned to the providing transfusion service after 1?week and used for hospital patient care without loss. The estimated cost of providing blood per mission was $0.28 and per patient transfused was $1138.

Conclusions

With appropriate attention to detail, it is possible to provide whole blood to an urban paramedical ambulance system with efficient blood component usage, minimal blood wastage, and low cost.