For patients with serious injuries, the most common causes of death before reaching hospital are problems with getting oxygen into the lungs or significant blood loss. In 2014 Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance began carrying blood on board all flights.
SERV-Wessex volunteer blood bikers operate a regular transportation service from University Hospital Southampton to the HIOWAA airbase in Thruxton, changing the blood carried by the Air Ambulance every 48 hours.
Volunteer blood bikers carry one fresh box of two units of blood to the HIOWAA Critical Care team in Thruxton every 48 hours, before conveying the blood on board the aircraft back to University Hospital Southampton for use in theatres. The journey from University Hospital Southampton to the HIOWAA Airbase in Thruxton is a round trip of approximately 80 miles.
The blood carried by the Air Ambulance is type O negative blood, known as the ‘universal donor,’ as it is safe to give to any patient. It is packed within a purpose designed cool box and electronically scanned to record patient details. The scanner prints a unique patient wrist band to ensure that the hospital team know that blood has been given, as well as the tracking details for the blood units. This data is wirelessly transmitted within the hospital onto the transfusion laboratory database.
To find out more about giving blood visit www.blood.co.uk