Back to Newsroom

Improving Patient Outcomes With Blood In Flight

by

Carrying blood and plasma in flight is a top priority for us to optimize outcomes for those with traumatic injuries. Patients suffering significant blood loss are at risk for hemorrhagic shock which causes the body’s organs to fail and can lead to death.

This is the harsh reality of emergency medicine, which is why we strive to offer all the care of an in-flight ICU, guaranteeing patients in emergent situations receive the best care possible in transit. For many patients, the moments spent on board our aircraft are critical to their survival. The administration of blood products in flight, coupled with rapid air transport, can tremendously improve the outcomes of critically ill or injured patients.

The ability to provide better care to patients is critically important when serving individuals in rural areas who rely on air transport to quickly get them to the emergency care they need. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the administration of thawed plasma during prehospital air medical transport to patients at risk for hemorrhagic shock resulted in lower 30-day mortality and faster blood clotting than standard-care resuscitation.

Adding blood and plasma to our aircrafts allows our industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional lifesaving care. We believe this is a key differentiator that sets us apart from other air medical providers. In fact, it is one of several safety standards Air Methods has put in place. Our nurses and paramedics are required to have practiced at least three years in an emergency care or intensive care setting before joining an Air Methods flight crew.

Because blood on board is not our only priority, Air Methods is also investing $100 million over 10 years to ensure the company’s 1,300 pilots are prepared for the most challenging safety scenarios. These flying ICUs are custom designed and supplied to include clot-busting medications for stroke, monitoring devices, intra-aortic balloon pumps, drug lines, transfer vents and other equipment to ensure a safe and effective transfer to hospital. Helicopters are also fully equipped with safety features such as night vision goggles (NVGs), XM satellite weather and tracking systems, GPS, and helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems. 

Each day we continue to hear the exciting news that another crew is able to administer blood in flight. While we are incredibly grateful that leaders are seeing the value of this to better serve their communities, we remain committed to this fight until every single Air Methods aircraft is stocked with blood products. In doing so, we will continue to empower our talented clinical teams to do what they do best—save lives.