All Native Air Bases in White Sands Area Now Carry Life-Saving Whole Blood Onboard 


Improving patient outcomes by transfusing donated whole blood during transports 

Las Cruces, NM, March 14, 2024 – All four Native Air emergency air medical bases in the White Sands area, located in Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Deming, and Silver City, are proud to announce that they now carry and can administer whole blood onboard every transport. While they previously carried packed red blood cells and plasma, Native Air is now the first and only community-based air ambulance service in the White Sands area with whole blood, allowing their industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional life-saving care when every minute counts. 

Every unit of whole blood provides red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and clotting factors for superior outcomes for patients suffering from trauma or hemorrhagic shock. It delivers oxygen around the body more effectively than separate blood products. It is particularly valuable in rural areas where there may be limited access to donated blood. Since Native Air carries its own blood supply, its clinicians can administer it in-flight while preserving the receiving hospital’s stock.    

Native Air 35, based in Alamogordo, has already used this vital resource when transporting a severely injured patient.  

“Our patient sustained multiple traumatic injuries and lost a substantial amount of blood,” said Flight Nurse Abbey Daigle. “Being able to administer whole blood en route to the hospital during our care kept her stable and prevented her from going into shock. Having whole blood readily available for the trauma patient allowed us to provide the best possible outcome for her.”   

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. 

“Carrying whole blood means the people of the White Sands area have access to a critical lifesaving intervention,” said Zach McGinnis, area manager with Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the nation and the parent company of Native Air. “With the outdoor activity, harsh environs, and road conditions in this area, 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 Native Air 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.