Baptist Health Air Ambulance First In State To Carry Blood Products For Transfusions At The Scene, Inflight

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. –Accident victims and other patients needing a blood transfusion at the scene or inflight – which can sometimes mean the difference between life and death – no longer have to wait until they arrive at the hospital to receive blood. Baptist Health MedFlight is the first and only air ambulance service in Arkansas to carry blood products on board so that patients with hemorrhagic shock can be stabilized on site or during transport.

“We began over a year ago to research, prepare, create and implement this program,” said Dr. Wayne Lyle, MedFlight medical director. “I’m proud of all the hard work from the multidisciplinary team of us, our blood bank, emergency department, the trauma coordinator, and QRC board that turned this idea into a reality.”

MedFlight now carries two units of packed red blood cells in a special transport system that ensures the product remains between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius for up to 72 hours. Lyle said they hope to expand the air ambulance’s storage capacity to four units of blood and two units of fresh frozen plasma – both extremely important for critical patients who have lost a lot of blood before being transported.

Other agencies helpful in the development of MedFlight’s hemorrhagic shock program were Life Air Rescue, of Shreveport, Louisiana; Hermman Life Flight, of Houston, Texas; and Vanderbilt LifeFlight, of Nashville, Tennessee. General protocols were developed using the American College of Surgeons Hemorrhagic Shock guidelines, the Advanced Trauma Life Support guidelines for adults and the Emergency Nurses Association guidelines for pediatric patients.

Baptist Health MedFlight makes more than 490 transports annually across the state. Operating for more than 30years, MedFlight is equipped with life-support systems and staffed by emergency medical care professionals who work to stabilize and treat patients during transport. In fact, Baptist Health is the only healthcare system to provide a special neonatal intensive care team on flights for high-risk mothers-to-be and critically ill infants. MedFlight was also the first air ambulance transportation service in Arkansas to obtain approval to perform Rapid Sequence Intubation in the field and the only Arkansas-based aeromedical service to transport Intra-Aortic Balloon Pumps.

In addition, MedFlight conducts Landing Zone classes taught by the transport crew/flight coordinators to educate emergency medical services staff on how to set up a helicopter landing site at the scene of an accident. This training provides first responders continuing education credits they are required to earn each year.

Baptist Health is the state’s most comprehensive healthcare system. With more than 175 points of access, including nine hospitals, Baptist Health is committed to delivering “All Our Best” in healthcare to the people of Arkansas.