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STARS stocking blood on board for transfusions

July 14, 2014  By Carey Fredericks

July 14, 2014, Saskatoon - The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) is the first medical service in Canada to begin stocking blood in advance for life-saving transfusions on air medical missions. The STARS base in Saskatoon is now the third base to come on line.

This new approach, spearheaded by Saskatoon Health Region’s Hospital
Transfusion Lab staff, allows the helicopter emergency medical service
to begin a blood transfusion early. The first hour of emergency care is
nicknamed “the golden hour” because lives can be saved if critically ill
patients can be stabilized before arrival at a trauma centre.

“We know how important it is for people to begin receiving blood
after a traumatic injury and the difference it can make in saving a
life,” says Dr. Karen Dallas, Saskatoon Health Region & Northern
Saskatchewan’s Medical Director for Transfusion Medicine. “When it
became possible for STARS to begin carrying blood on board, we wanted to
support the initiative to ensure patients are getting the care they
need before they get to the hospital.”

STARS maintains, at their base, two units of O negative blood (packed
red blood cells) supplied by Saskatoon’s Transfusion Medicine
Department, securely enclosed in a six kilogram (13 pound) insulated
thermal cooler with a monitoring device to ensure proper temperature. If
the blood is not used within 72 hours, it is returned to the hospital,
inspected to ensure quality, and then made available to other patients.


"In trauma, blood can make the difference between life and death. It
is inspiring to see Saskatchewan leading the way by providing our
citizens this game changing roadside treatment that very few other
services in North America provide,” says Dr. John Froh, Transport
Physician and Medical Director, for STARS in Saskatoon.

Dr. Froh says, “Our new ability to give blood is a powerful
complement to our established clinical strategy of highly trained air
medical crews providing critical care while rapidly transporting the
severely injured trauma patient to our provincial trauma centres for
definitive care."


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