Now the fourth city in Canada to keep blood onboard, Edmonton’s STARS base director Corinne Edwards said having blood handy for in-air transfusions will make a huge difference to patients.
In the past, STARS would typically make a pit stop at an area hospital for blood before heading to an incident site or even sometimes make a judgment call to go without.
“It’s not the most ideal situation where you know that having blood could have helped a patient and you didn’t have it,” said Edwards.
Now, thanks to a special Credo cooler designed by the U.S. military, STARS crews will have two units of type O blood to administer when needed.
Alberta Health Services medical director of transfusion medicine, Susan Nahirniak, said the initiative between STARS, AHS and Canadian Blood Services took almost two years of planning before the blood could be maintained in the air ambulance.
“The one thing that is always a concern when you have blood readily available is it going to be used inappropriately,” Nahirniak said.
Crews will now have a Credo cooler on board that they can access if necessary. If the blood stock is not used within 96 hours, the units will be transported back to a hospital and inspected to ensure quality before it’s used for other patients.
Edmonton is the fourth city to carry blood in STARS helicopters, after Regina, Saskatchewan and Calgary.