Air ambulance plasma trial is a real life-saver

GNAAS pilot Phil Lambert, John Quinn of Blood Bikes Cumbria, Dr Rachel Hawes, Steve Rawlings of Northumbria Blood Bikes and GNAAS paramedic Andy Dalton.
GNAAS pilot Phil Lambert, John Quinn of Blood Bikes Cumbria, Dr Rachel Hawes, Steve Rawlings of Northumbria Blood Bikes and GNAAS paramedic Andy Dalton.

The early results of a new trial using plasma on board the region’s air ambulances has seen more ‘unexpected survivors’.

The trial, which builds on the life-saving blood on board technique, saw the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) carry defrosted fresh frozen plasma on board one of its aircraft for the first time in May last year.

Following a review of five months’ data, the trial’s early results demonstrate what trauma experts had hoped for – that carrying plasma as well as blood on the GNAAS aircraft would save even more lives.

The technique will now be adopted on both its active aircraft, although it will be monitored to ensure it is working effectively and efficiently.

Dr Rachel Hawes, a GNAAS aircrew doctor and consultant in anaesthesia and pre-hospital emergency medicine, at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, brought blood on board to the region in 2015. It was first used after a collision on the A1 Berwick bypass.

She said: “We’re delighted to see evidence that using fresh frozen plasma alongside red blood cell transfusions, when stabilising patients with life-threatening injuries, has had such a positive impact. Across the first five months of the new trial, we have seen three unexpected survivors, which is fantastic news.

“This shows how much this new approach has become routine practice when needed, and means that major trauma patients are alive today because of the rapid transfusions they received at the scene of their accident.”

During the five-month trial, 36 patients received blood on board.