Thank you to the New York Legislature for putting patients first

(GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colorado, May 28, 2021) Air Methods, which serves New York State as LifeNet of New York, applauds Senator Hinchey, Assemblywoman Woerner, and the New York legislature for passing S. 4085/A.2561 earlier this week. This important legislation will allow air transport ambulance service providers to store and distribute blood at all their facilities and initiate and administer transfusions while providing air transport services.

“On behalf of all of our crewmembers serving the state of New York and the patients we will be called to treat, we thank the cosponsors and supporters of this bill for their months of dedicated leadership on this critical issue,” said JaeLynn Williams, CEO of Air Methods Corporation. “This law will save the lives of countless New Yorkers and we are grateful to the New York legislature for allowing us to provide this important care to our patients.”

Air medical crews in New York are currently prohibited from initiating a blood transfusion from blood stores at their base, because outdated state regulations required these services to operate as blood bank distribution centers. New York is the only state in the nation with a law like this on the books, which effectively prohibits air medical crews from providing blood transfusions despite providing the highest level of medical care in-transport as critical care services.

“Our crewmembers work in air medical to save lives, but their hands have been tied while providing care to patients in New York that needed blood transfusions while in transport,” said Air Methods Chief Nursing Officer Stephanie Queen, PhD. “Our patient transport data shows that over the last several years lives have been lost as a result of this outdated law in New York; passing S. 4085/A. 2561 was the right thing to do for New Yorkers.”

After two years of working with the New York Department of Health and the legislature, this regulatory correction was necessary to bring New York up to the standards of the rest of the nation. The issue has gained traction in 2021 when after a farming accident, a LifeNet of New York aircraft was dispatched but not available, so the patient had to be transported by Guthrie Air from Sayre, Pennsylvania. This neighboring state allows the transporting of blood and allows blood transfusions during flight. The patient lost both of his legs, but the blood transfusion was absolutely necessary to save his life after experiencing such high-acuity trauma. This was only possible because the care was provided by a Pennsylvania-based aircraft, not one from New York.

Because air ambulance services, like LifeNet, often partner with the American Red Cross in other states, they frequently have access to more blood products on-site than a small hospital. This new law will help air ambulances to not deplete the rural hospital blood supply at all and to actually improve it by donating unused blood products to local health systems to be used before they expire.

“New York patients in upstate and rural New York remain at a disadvantage until this law is implemented, but we are prepared to take action the moment we are allowed to provide this care. Including more than $100,000 of equipment at the ready at our ten New York bases with our clinicians trained and ready to comply with all of the regulatory and accreditation requirements,” said Queen. “We have also confirmed with our national blood supply partner, the American Red Cross, that we will be able to distribute human blood products at our New York bases starting mid-Summer if the law is implemented by then.” 

Air Methods and LifeNet of New York hope that Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign the bill into law quickly. The bill will go into effect immediately upon being signed, which means Air Methods can utilize the infrastructure they are building in New York state to provide blood transfusions in-flight as quickly as possible under the new law.

“We are counting the days until this is signed because we can’t bear to see any more trauma patients put at an increased medical risk unnecessarily in New York,” said Williams. “Thank you again to the New York legislators for all their support and we look forward to Governor Cuomo signing the bill to allow our incredible clinical teams to do what they do best – save lives.”


About Air Methods
Air Methods is the leading air medical service, delivering lifesaving care to more than 70,000 people every year. With nearly 40 years of air medical experience, Air Methods is the preferred partner for hospitals and one of the largest community-based providers of air medical services. United Rotorcraft is the Company’s products division specializing in the design and manufacture of aeromedical and aerospace technology. Air Methods’ fleet of owned, leased or maintained aircraft features more than 450 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Media Contacts:                                                                                                                 
Doug Flanders
VP Corporate Communications, Air Methods

Adam Beeson                                                                                                           
Amendola Communications for Air Methods                                                                                           
(847) 867-0048

This op-ed is from five New York medical directors for LifeNet New York

New York currently does not allow air ambulances to carry and transfuse its own blood products. Recently, several medical directors from our LifeNet bases wrote an op-ed calling for the state legislature to change this law.

We write as the medical directors of LifeNet of New York to bring attention to a key medical issue for emergency patients in New York, impacting patients for decades without being corrected. Our service provides emergency critical care to patients across the state at a moment’s notice, an ICU-level care for the most critically ill and injured patients who require transport to tertiary or quaternary care facilities to treat their illness or injury. LifeNet of New York has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 health crisis, including transporting critical patients on ventilators from an overwhelmed facility in Queens to hospitals in upstate New York and out-of-state, an endeavor documented in multiple news reports.

While we are proud of the medical care provided by LifeNet of New York, we are writing today to ask the New York State Legislature to authorize our service to carry and transfuse our own blood products to our patients that need these therapies. Air Methods treats patients in 48 states across the U.S., and New York is currently the only state where regulations do not allow our clinical team to monitor, store, and transfuse blood products. We must be able to use every health resource we have to treat our patients, but the state of New York has tied one hand behind our back.

When we are dispatched to transport a patient who requires a blood transfusion, LifeNet of New York’s ­­­­nurses and paramedics cannot deliver that care. Instead, we must rely on the sending facility to have enough blood to transfuse the patient before transport, which is not often the case in the small rural hospitals to which we respond. Our service already has a national contract in place with the American Red Cross to carry two units of universal packed red blood cells on every helicopter and where available, plasma as well. This is more than some small rural hospitals in New York have in reserves at any given time, yet we are prohibited from using these resources in New York.

Moreover, when we transport trauma patients from the scene of injury, we do not have our own blood and plasma to transfuse to these patients as they are bleeding to death. The only medical treatment that the state of New York will currently allow our flight nurses and paramedics to keep readily available to patients in hemorrhagic shock is salt water, either normal saline or lactated Ringers. These fluids are no substitute for blood products because they do not stop bleeding or carry oxygen. Instead, these fluids dilute the bloodstream, worsening patient outcomes.

There is a tangible human cost to the outdated statutes in New York. Our flight nurses and paramedics chose their profession because they want to save lives, not watch patients bleed to death receiving salt water instead of blood products because their hands are tied by outdated state regulations. Across our state borders, LifeNet of New York’s sister air medical programs are able to store and provide blood products as a readily available resource. We at LifeNet of New York ask that our state government gives New Yorkers the same chance for survival that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut authorize for their residents.

We would like to thank Senator Metzger for her leadership on this critical health issue for patients in New York, by sponsoring S. 8346. We ask the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to support this common sense issue now and update the outdated state statutes that unnecessarily put New Yorkers at a disadvantage.


Dr. David FE Stuhlmiller, MD FACEP FAEMS CMTE
Physician Advisor and Medical Director
LifeNet of New York
(973) 879-9053

Dr. Stephen Hassett MD FACEP
Associate Professor Emergency Medicine
Albany Medical Center
Physician Medical Director
LifeNet of New York

Dr. Beth Linkenheil, DO FACEP
Chief of Emergency Medicine
Director of Emergency Medical Services
Guthrie Health System
Physician Medical Director
LifeNet of New York

Dr. Luke Duncan, MD
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Associate Professor of Surgical Critical Care
Albany Medical Center
Physician Medical Director
LifeNet of New York

Dr. Maja Lundborg-Gray, MD, FAAEM, FACEP
Physician Medical Director
LifeNet of New York
Fort Drum, Potsdam, Seneca Falls, Watertown bases