Air Ambulance team call for more blood donors

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) is celebrating National Blood Week and encouraging people to make a donation of blood to help them keep saving lives.

 The charity’s Critical Care Team have been carrying blood on board their helicopter for almost two years, meaning they can provide pre-hospital blood transfusions to patients. In 2016, they provided over 50 blood transfusions at the scene of an accident. Since carrying blood on board, the chances of a patient’s survival has dramatically increased. GWAAC Critical Care Doctor Harvey Pynn said:

“I have no doubt in my mind that lives have been saved as a result of pre-hospital blood transfusions in this area. We will endeavour to prove this statistically in time and will develop our practices to optimise the use of this precious lifesaving asset.”

National Blood Week (19th-25th of June) encourages people to donate blood. Giving blood saves lives and provides a lifeline to both patients in emergency care and patients with long-term treatments. The NHS needs over 6,000 blood donations every day to treat patients in need across England. Due to the high demand for blood, the NHS estimates that they need approximately 200,000 new donors each year.

National Blood Week aims to encourage more young people to donate blood with their social media campaign ‘I’m there’. The ‘I’m there’ campaign highlights how people can save the life of someone else, whilst going about theirs. It also highlights the urgent need for blood and strives to tackle some of the barriers which prevent people from coming forward to donate. National Blood Week encourages people to use the hashtag #imthere when they register to give blood or after they donate blood. By becoming a blood donor, you can help the GWAAC team save the lives of critically ill and injured patients. Find out more at www.blood.co.uk

In order to carry blood on board, we work closely with Freewheelers EVS. Freewheelers EVS is the blood bike charity for Bristol, Bath and Somerset in South West England. Volunteer riders provide a free out-of-hours emergency motorcycle courier service to hospitals across the region.

Every day, the Freewheelers EVS collect two units of O negative blood from the North Bristol Trust Transfusion Laboratory at Southmead Hospital and deliver it to GWAAC’s airbase in Filton. If the blood is not used, it will be returned to Southmead Hospital by the volunteer blood bikers after 24 hours. The blood storage boxes maintain the temperature of the blood within in very narrow limits for well over 24 hours. Any unused blood units are therefore able to be put back into the Southmead Hospital blood bank, preventing waste.

by Andy Crow