Hackensack University Medical Center Deploys Lifesaving Blood Products on Flights

Emergency air medical flights will now carry whole blood on board to help save lives

Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center, a New Jersey state designated level 2 trauma center, in partnership with Air Methods, announced their emergency response aircraft are now carrying blood on flights to serve the communities in the air medical response area.

During a medical emergency, blood products save lives. This is specifically true for patients in or at risk for hemorrhagic shock or have suffered significant trauma. Every day our nation’s EMS providers rush to the aid of critically ill and injured people in our communities and often those efforts  would benefit from the use of pre-hospital blood products.

“Frequently our caregivers are faced with the emergency transport of a critically injured trauma patient,” said Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive, Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center. “Clinical research shows providing blood-products in the field improves outcomes for these patients. It is in the best interest of the community we serve to carry blood on board our emergency medical aircrafts. We are thrilled to be the first New Jersey hospital-based air medical program  licensed to store and carry whole blood.”

The program will begin with AirMed One, based in West Milford, and then expand this summer to AirMed Two, based in Berkeley Township.  The teams will carry type O whole blood, known as the “universal donor,” so they can begin this life-saving treatment on the way to the hospital.

The most common incidents that cause significant blood loss include motor vehicle accidents, penetrating traumas, falls from significant heights and pedestrians struck by a vehicle. Unfortunately, these types of incidents happen in communities of every type and require rapid access to emergency care.

“Trauma patients frequently arrive at the hospital critically injured,” said Michelle Kobayashi, MBA, MSN, RN, EMT, administrative director of EMS and Emergency Community Operations at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center. “This program lets our highly trained flight nurses and flight paramedics begin the care that would otherwise not be available until they arrive at the hospital.  Every step that can be taken enroute to stabilize and treat patients increases their likelihood for survival.”

The air medical whole blood program is dedicated to the memory of Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center EMS flight nurse Michael Howlin, a tireless advocate for the care of seriously ill and critically injured patients.  Mike’s vision sparked a journey that began in 2019 and reached this major milestone today.

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