Why is carrying Whole Blood important?
Because a person with a compromised artery can bleed out and die in as little as three minutes. It doesn’t matter whether it is from a medical condition, shooting, a stabbing, car wreck, industrial or home accident, or a fall, controlling the bleeding and then replacing the blood in the field is a game-changer. Blood products (packed red blood cells and plasma) take longer to administer and does not include platelets, a critical component in clotting.
The use of Whole Blood in prehospital resuscitation is the next essential step in combating preventable deaths due to blood loss. Waiting to transfuse Whole Blood until they arrive at the hospital significantly increases mortality.
The American Association of Blood Banks is a professional society for transfusion medicine which sets the standards for hospital transfusion services. In April 2018, the AABB amended their standards to indicate it is permissible to use low titer group O Whole Blood for recipients of known or unknown ABO group types.
In 2016, we partnered with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to provide the blood products (type O negative Packed Red Blood Cells and Fresh Plasma). It was a new type of business for them to have an EMS agency as a client compared to a hospital.
In August 2019, CCEMS transitioned from Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to the South Texas Tissue and Blood Center (STTBC) in San Antonio, TX. The decision was made based on the life-span of the Whole Blood they provide and their solution to the supply and demand challenge. STTBC uses a special bag and citrate preservative that extends the life-span of Whole Blood from 21-days to 35-days. The additional 14-days is significant to avoid the blood expiring before being administered. The blood is shipped overnight via FedEx in a special cooler.
The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center has identified a donor base of male, O Positive, Low Titer, donors and have them on a regular donation schedule. The Brother’s In Arms program taps into their veteran population and keeps them in a steady supply of this new universal donor type. They are partnering with CCEMS to start a similar program here in Houston identifying a base of First Responders and Veterans. CCEMS and South Texas Blood and Tissue Centers will schedule regular donor events in the area to identify these essential donors and get them on a regular schedule.