San Antonio hospitals report better trauma outcomes after ambulances stock blood for transfusions

San Antonio paramedics now carry whole blood in their ambulances to perform transfusions on trauma patients, and someare reporting better outcomes as a result, according to EMS1.com.

The San Antonio Fire Department modified seven ambulances to include high-tech coolers and warmers to store the blood between 1 to 9 degrees Celsius. Paramedics can also remove the coolers and warmers to perform blood transfusions in a different location, if necessary. The ambulances share a blood supply with local medical helicopters, which received the transfusion equipment before the ambulances. Whatever blood is not used is given to local hospitals.

This simple transition has increased life-saving by twofold, according to C.J. Winckler, MD, deputy medical director at the San Antonio Fire Department.

Mr. Winckler said stocking whole blood on the medical helicopters raised the trauma survival rate from about 20 to 30 percent to "as high as 70 percent." He said he expects the ground ambulances to achieve a similar result.

"Both Brook Army Medical Center and University Hospital, they are seeing better outcomes. Patients are arriving a little less sick, and then the resuscitation required in the trauma room is less," Randi Schaefer, MSN, RN, a former Army trauma nurse and research director for the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, told EMS1.com.

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