Air Idaho Rescue 2 and 5 Now Carry Life-Saving Whole Blood


Improving patient outcomes by transfusing donated whole blood to save lives in the air 

Idaho Falls, ID, April 4, 2024 – The Air Idaho Rescue rotor wing and fixed wing bases in Idaho Falls are proud to announce they now carry and can administer whole blood onboard every air medical transport. Their bases in Driggs and Salmon already carry whole blood, so now the entire Air Idaho Rescue fleet can utilize this improved resource. Having whole blood aboard their helicopter and fixed-wing plane allows their industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional life-saving care when every minute counts. 

“Whole blood contains red blood cells, plasma and platelets. When doing blood resuscitation, you need all three components to help replace what was lost and with coagulation (blood clotting),” said Teather Campbell, clinical director with Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the nation and the parent company of Air Idaho Rescue. “So instead of just giving packed red blood cells, we are giving everything needed to replace blood loss and clotting factors to help stop bleeding.”    

The crews previously carried packed red blood cells and plasma, and are excited to now carry whole blood which offers superior outcomes for patients suffering from trauma or hemorrhagic shock. It is particularly valuable in rural areas where there may be limited access to donated blood. Since Air Idaho Rescue carries its own blood supply, its clinicians can administer it in-flight while preserving hospital stock.  

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that whole blood transfusions improve the 30-day survival rate of patients suffering from hemorrhagic shock by 60 percent. The earlier patients receive whole blood, the better their outcomes, showing the significance of pre-hospital transfusion. Moderately to severely injured patients, including those with head injuries, particularly benefit from whole blood transfusions. 

“The people of Idaho enjoy the beautiful landscape and backcountry activities this state has to offer, but it means they need access to critical lifesaving interventions when they face medical emergencies,” said Jill Egan, account executive with Air Methods. “Between the many outdoor activities and the rural terrain in the state, whole blood is ideal for the type of injuries we see.”   

According to the National Institutes of Health, the ability to separate blood into its different components was developed in 1940, and it became more common to administer blood products due, in part, to the improved ability to store them. However, blood components don’t carry oxygen as well as whole blood, and during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the military brought whole blood transfusion back into favor. Doctors found that using warm whole blood allowed trauma patients to recover faster and live longer. Additionally, using universal, low-titer O blood is not only safe in both children and adults, but it also eliminates the time needed to test patients for blood type when every minute counts in an emergency.    

All Air Idaho Rescue clinicians have at least three years of experience in an emergency or intensive care setting before joining a flight crew. They receive ongoing advanced training, and every nurse and paramedic has access to Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Air Methods Ascend is available to medical personnel across the country. 

Additionally, Air Methods is committed to providing air medical services to all members of the communities it serves and is in-network with most major health insurance providers across the country. Their patient advocacy program works with all patients, regardless of insurance, to ensure affordability while making pre-paid air medical membership unnecessary