Air Methods, an air medical service provider, has announced that the American Red Cross will supply blood and plasma for all its aircraft currently unaffiliated with a regional blood center or health system. The partnership affects 98 Air Methods bases nationwide.
Carrying blood and plasma has been a top priority for Air Methods for years as it is often needed for patients with traumatic injuries and other disease processes resulting in hemorrhage. However, in some areas, access to blood and plasma was not a feasible option given the limited resources within the remote areas air medical access is most needed. This partnership with the American Red Cross ensures that all Air Methods aircraft will have the lifesaving biomaterials ready when needed.
The importance of having blood and plasma available during air medical missions can be a significant contributing factor in patient outcomes. For example, in patients at risk for hemorrhagic shock due to blood loss, the administration of thawed plasma during prehospital air medical transport was safe and resulted in lower 30-day mortality and faster blood clotting than standard-care resuscitation, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.
“The addition of blood and plasma on each transport is a critical milestone as it provides our crews with another tool to use with the patient in time-sensitive situations, such as after a car accident where a patient is severely bleeding,” said Tina Giangrasso, senior vice president of Clinical Services at Air Methods. “Air Methods is proactive and wants to provide all of the equipment that an ICU has on our aircraft so that patients in emergent care situations receive optimal care throughout the flight to the hospital or between hospitals.”
The addition of blood and plasma on all flights is another way Air Methods continues to enhance the safety of missions and improve patient outcomes. This patient-centered culture is reflected in its clinical standards and training. For example, Air Methods’ registered nurses or paramedic-level trained clinicians must have practiced at least three years in a critical care or high-volume EMS setting. Clinicians must also obtain 100 hours of continuing education every year following Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) standards. In addition, every Air Methods mission is placed within Air Methods extensive continuous quality improvement process to identify best practices along with possible training or education opportunities.
Another example of this dedication to safety is Air Methods’ $100-million, 10-year investment in flight simulators, announced in 2017, to ensure that the company’s 1,300 pilots are prepared for the most challenging safety scenarios. Pilots also fly the world’s largest civilian fleet of helicopters, fully-equipped with safety features such as night vision goggles (NVGs), XM satellite weather and tracking systems, GPS and helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems. Combined, Air Methods’ clinicians and pilots comprise the most-highly trained, skilled and properly equipped crews in the air medical service industry.
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