N.Y. becomes latest state to let EMS aircraft carry, distribute blood in air
“When you have a patient that has been traumatically injured ... they need blood products,” said Erin Reese, program director with Mercy Flight Central
By Leila Merrill
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — New York is now the last state in the U.S. to allow EMS aircraft to carry and distribute blood in the air, WROC reported.
The bill passed on Dec. 23 and was sponsored by Sen. Pam Helming in the culmination of months of efforts by advocates.
Transporting a patient to a trauma center can take up to 45 minutes in some areas, according to Erin Reese, program director with Mercy Flight Central in Canandaigua. Reese also said that about 40% of the patients her agency treats are trauma patients who need blood immediately.
However, until recently, responders could only provide saltwater infusions in the air.
“When you have a patient that has been traumatically injured, they need volume, giving them saltwater is not the gold standard, they need blood products at that point,” Reese said. “The patients we transport are often a significant distance from a trauma center.”
“The bill was initially introduced two years ago,” she said. “Something many other programs have been doing, so certainly something we are excited and ready to start doing as well.”
The blood will be refrigerated and monitored.
Reese is concerned about blood shortages but said she would work with blood banks and the Red Cross.
Helming’s office released a statement saying, “with the signing of this bill, we have not only fixed an arcane state law and shown support for our dedicated air EMS providers, we have implemented a change that can potentially save lives. “