Mercy Air Now Carries Life-Saving Whole Blood Onboard Their Air Ambulances 


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

HENDERSON, NV, April 25, 2024 – Mercy Air, based in Henderson, Mesquite, and Pahrump, NV, is proud to announce they now carry and can administer whole blood onboard every air medical transport. Having whole blood aboard their helicopters allows their industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional life-saving care when every minute counts. 

“Carrying blood has been extremely beneficial and a game changer in EMS,” said Mercy Air Flight Paramedic Carlos Fonseca. “Blood administration is crucial in stabilizing a critical trauma patient who has suffered massive blood loss. Whole blood contains the necessary components for clotting and oxygenation, increasing the patient’s chances of survival. We are the only EMS agency in the area that carries blood and it’s a valuable tool in our critical care arsenal.”     

Each 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 is particularly valuable in rural areas where there may be limited access to donated blood. Since Mercy Air carries its own blood supply, its clinicians can administer it in-flight while preserving hospital stock. The crews previously carried packed red blood cells and plasma, and are excited to now carry whole blood which delivers oxygen around the body more effectively.     

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 gives the people of southern Nevada access to a critical intervention that helps to save lives in dire situations,” said Tanya Paynter, account executive with Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the nation and the parent company of Mercy Air. “We serve so many rural communities without easy access to a trauma center, so our ability to administer whole blood can make a significant difference in our patients’ outcomes.”   

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 Mercy 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.