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Air ambulance company to carry blood on all flights

“Hemorrhage is responsible for nearly 40% of trauma deaths,” and about half of those occur in the prehospital period, said Leann Briggs, LifeSave 21 Flight Nurse

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By Shayla Gaulding
The Emporia Gazette

WICHITA, Kan. — LifeSave will now carry blood on all flights, the air ambulance service announced Wednesday at Newman Regional Health.

Carrying blood on flights is a revolutionary breakthrough in emergency medical treatment and Wednesday’s announcement will make LifeSave the first air ambulance in the state to utilize the new method of care. It will also help the air ambulance crew save more lives, providing needed care long before a patient arrives at a hospital.

“Uncontrolled bleeding is one of the number one causes of preventable death from trauma,” Leann Briggs, LifeSave 21 Flight Nurse, said. “Hemorrhage is responsible for nearly 40% of trauma deaths, and of these deaths, approximately half occur during the prehospital period.”



According to Briggs, 20% of people who die from traumatic injuries could have been saved with a timely response. By adding blood on LifeSave flights, the air ambulance team will be able to begin administering necessary, lifesaving blood transfusions before a patient even reaches a hospital.

Dr. Jamie Foley, emergency physician at Newman Regional Health, said it is an honor to be a part of this initiative.

“The idea of LifeSave starting this initiative to carry blood on board so that they are even more prepared for their critical transport mission impresses me but also makes my life easier,” Foley said. “In a selfish way, I am very excited to know that when there is a major trauma with massive blood loss, that there is someone who is going to get to the scene and already start resuscitative measures at a higher level than I would have even expected.”

According to Briggs, transporting blood in the aircrafts has been a lengthy and extensive process. The LifeSave team has even been carrying saline on previous flights to ensure the process is safe and effective.

“There [are] a ton of requirements and logistics that have to go into something like that,” Briggs said. “That’s why partnering with the RedCross has been crucial. They have some of those logistics already in place and then also having the resources like having the Highway Patrol and other people collaborate with us.”

Briggs said the process is very complex to translate into an aircraft, especially when it comes to maintaining blood integrity. LifeSave is the only air ambulance in the state licensed to carry and administer blood to patients in need. Newman Regional Health — as well as hospitals in Wichita, Liberal, Garden City and Parsons — serves as a blood-carrying base for the helicopters and planes that allow LifeSave to carry out their life-saving missions.

However, LifeSave and Newman Regional Health would not be able to save lives without the help of generous blood donors.

“Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood,” Susan Faler with the American Red Cross said. “Patients don’t get to choose when and where they are when they need blood, nor do they get to choose how much blood they need to help them survive an accident, recover from childbirth complications or make it through surgery, but they and their doctors count on it being there.

“We are so grateful to have LifeSave as a partner in getting lifesaving blood to the patients who need it most, but now comes the part where you can help,” she continued. “As amazing as it is that someone in flight can receive blood on a helicopter, blood must come from generous volunteer donors.”

To find a blood drive near you, visit


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