Essex & Herts Air Ambulance reaches 1000 days carrying Blood on Board Milestone

13 December 2021

Today (Monday 13th December) marks a milestone at Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) as it reaches 1,000 days carrying blood on board its helicopters and rapid response vehicles. 

Over 130 patients have received blood transfusions from EHAAT’s critical care teams since the charity first started carrying blood products on 19 March 2019. 

Laurie Phillipson is Head of Clinical Development and Blood Project Lead for EHAAT. He said: “Previously patients who suffered blood loss were given a saline solution, which although effective, doesn’t carry oxygen or help with clotting. With blood on board our helicopters and RRVs now carry packed red blood cells of blood group O Negative, meaning they can be used on any patient, and when needed, these are given with plasma, the other major component of human blood.  

“Together they enable our pre-hospital critical care teams to provide a blood transfusion rapidly and safely at the scene of an incident. This can be a life-saving intervention for the most seriously injured and is another example of how EHAAT is bringing innovative care to the patient’s side.  

The 1,000-day milestone would not have been reached without the support from the laboratory and transfusion team at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) in Harlow, who provide the blood, and the volunteer drivers and bikers of the Essex Voluntary Blood Service (EVBS), who deliver the blood to EHAAT’s airbases at Earls Colne and North Weald daily. 

Carol Weller is Chair at EVBS and said: “Over the last two years we have all worked very hard to make sure that EHAAT has blood whenever they need it night or day, even throughout the pandemic. It has been an absolute honour for me to work so closely with such an amazing team of men and women who I am proud to call my EHAAT colleagues”. 

Blood is replaced daily and replenished as required. It is delivered and stored in special insulated boxes that keep it at a cool temperature for over 24 hours. These are fitted with a data logger that indicates if the temperature is trending outside of safe limits. If unused after 24 hours the blood is returned to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for use elsewhere, preventing any wastage of this precious commodity. When the blood is required, it is warmed to body temperature to make it safe to administer and prevent unnecessary cooling of the patient. 

Tracy Nevin, blood transfusion specialist practitioner at PAHT, said: “We are so delighted to have the pleasure of working in partnership with this wonderful team EHAAT and to have reached this magnificent milestone together in providing emergency blood products at the roadside for 1,000 days. We are committed to supporting this essential service and to be a part of helping make a real difference in patient care.”  

“We enjoy working with our EHAAT colleagues and continuously look at ways to improve the service and are excited to continue supporting them on this project. It has been a pleasure and honour to work with such a dedicated team.” 

On average it costs £500 to help one patient in need of blood and EHAAT launched its ‘Blood on Board Appeal’ in March this year. The appeal managed to raise just over £23,000, but EHAAT needs continued help to secure blood on board. Can you help by making a donation and supporting EHAAT by visiting their website at https://www.ehaat.org. Your support will ensure they can continue to carry blood on board into the future. 

Photograph shows an EHAAT critical care team practice giving a blood transfusion (simulation) Credit EHAAT 

For more information contact Sue Wilcock on 0345 2417 690 or 07889 815516 or email [email protected]  

Notes to Editor:  

  • Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) is a Charity that provides a Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) for the critically ill and injured of Essex, Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas.  
  • The service is provided free of charge but, unlike NHS emergency services, the Charity receives limited direct funding from the Government and none from the National Lottery. It costs in excess of £750,000 every month to keep the service operational and cover all charitable costs, and this would not be possible without the generosity and goodwill of people and businesses of Essex, Hertfordshire and beyond.  
  • Each of the charity’s HEMS teams consist of two Pilots, a Pre-Hospital Care Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic. 
  • These teams, made up of highly-skilled individuals, tended to 1,626 patients in 2020 and are the backbone of your local life-saving Charity.        
  • The fleet consists of two Air Ambulances, and four rapid response vehicles (RRVs – cars) The RRVs are crewed by a Pre-hospital Care Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic and carry the same life-saving equipment as the helicopters. 
  • During the day, from 7am until 8.00pm, the Critical Care Team provides the service using helicopters based at Earls Colne and North Weald. An RRV is used before sunrise, after sunset or when the helicopter is unable to fly because of poor weather or maintenance.  
  • Overnight from 7.30pm to 7.30am the service is provided using an RRV based at North Weald. 

Call us: 0345 2417 690

Lottery Hotline: 0345 2417 688

Donate: Text ‘HELI’ to 70588 to give £5

You will be charged £5, plus your standard network rate. 100% of your donation will go to Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT). By texting, you agree that EHAAT may phone or text you to tell you about our work. If you would prefer not to hear from us again, text HELI NO to 70588.

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Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1108989). Registered company in England and Wales (05397840). Registered address: Flight House, The Business Centre, Earls Colne Business Park, Earls Colne, Colchester CO6 2NS.