NY bill would allow air ambulances to carry blood
State Sen. Michelle Hinchey says New York is the only state that does not allow for blood transfusions on medical aircraft
By Laura French
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers are rallying support for a bill that would allow air ambulance crews in the state to carry and transfuse blood.
The bill would update "outdated" current laws regulating the storage and distribution of blood, allowing air ambulance providers to store blood at their bases, carry blood on flights and distribute unused blood products to local hospitals, according to a press release from Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd District), who is co-sponsoring the bill.
Supporters of the bill said it is especially critical for the state's rural and upstate areas where patients may have less access to blood products at local hospitals.
"When a local farmer in Chenango County suffered a horrible accident on his farm, it was a blood transfusion provided by a Pennsylvania-based medical helicopter that saved his life. That's because New York is the only state in the country that does not allow medical helicopters to carry and transfuse blood, despite the fact that our air ambulance crews are trained to perform this life-saving care," stated Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D-46th District), who is also co-sponsoring the bill. "In a medical emergency that requires air transport, access to a blood transfusion can mean the difference between life and death, especially for residents in rural and upstate communities and visitors to our wilderness areas."
Lawmakers and air ambulance personnel held an event at the Albany Medical Center Helipad on Monday to help rally support for the bill.
"Allowing EMS to [start] replacement of blood for patients in hemorrhagic shock will be lifesaving. The impact of transfusions has already been felt by some of our rural patients, some through aircraft based out of state, and some by blood brought to the scene for EMS response physicians," said Dr. Michael Dailey, the regional EMS medical director for the region surrounding Albany, in a statement. "This bill is a huge step towards bringing this important intervention consistently to the patients across the state."
"LifeNet NY treats patients every week in the state of New York that could have benefited from being able to receive a blood transfusion as part of their care administered by our air ambulance crews," LifeNet Medical Director Dr. Luke Duncan said in a statement. "As a physician caring for these patients at the busiest trauma center in the state, I know that this legislation will save lives and is absolutely necessary for continuity of critical care to the receiving facility in New York."
The legislation is currently moving toward a third and final reading in the New York Senate, and has been referred to the Committee on Health in the Assembly.