Skip to content

Kamloops, Kelowna air ambulance paramedics now equipped for life-saving transfusions

Pre-hospital blood previously only available to critical care paramedics in Lower Mainland

“It is going to be a game changer for the people we serve.”

This was Kamloops critical care paramedic Brian Reichert’s response to a new agreement between Interior Health and Royal Inland Hospital that gives air ambulance paramedics in Kamloops full-time access to blood products needed for life-saving transfusions.

“We cover a large area with a lot of boat traffic, ATVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles on our highways,” said Reichert in an Aug. 23 media release from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS). “For us to have a blood product for someone who has suffered an incident, will buy us the time we need to get them to hospital and into surgery to get the help they need.”

BCEHS said emergency re-supply of blood products for the air ambulance will also be available from Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) if needed, as trauma patients are often transferred to that hospital.

“Pre-hospital blood was previously only available to critical care paramedics dispatched from Vancouver International Area and from Parksville on Vancouver Island,” reads the release.

Read more: Salmon Arm Airport plays crucial role

Read more: Newly-launched Island-based air rescue team has few equivalents in North America

Reichert pointed out that traumatic injuries account for most cases in which blood transfusions are needed, but there are also some medical conditions which can result in significant blood loss, and this will program also help those patients get the care they need.

BCEHS said critical care paramedics have already used blood on board the air ambulance when responding to at least one motor vehicle incident in the Interior this summer.

The blood is prepared by Transfusion Medical Services at Royal Inland Hospital, explained BCEHS. When the helicopter is called out, the blood is carried on board in a special temperature-controlled, secure cooler, in case it is needed.

Twice a week, the station is re-supplied with two fresh units of blood. If the blood is unused, it is returned to the hospital to prevent wastage, said Reichert.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sign up for our newsletter to get Salmon Arm stories in your inbox every morning.