This month, Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) and SERV Kent Bloodrunners – a charity that provides emergency courier services to transport blood products – are marking the tenth anniversary of SERV’s first delivery of blood to the life-saving charity.
Through this partnership, KSS became one of the first UK Air Ambulance services to carry blood on board – an innovation which has transformed pre-hospital emergency care and has led to significantly improved patient outcomes.
Over the past ten years, doctors and paramedics at KSS have administered blood or plasma to hundreds of patients; 538 over the last five years and 148 last year alone. Many of these patients would not have survived without receiving this time-critical treatment at the scene or during their rapid transfer to hospital.
Kerry Farwell-Stacey was involved in a serious car accident in 2020. Kerry said: “I was given a blood transfusion at the scene, which was only possible because KSS carry blood on board, as the team were concerned I might have been bleeding internally from the impact of the crash. It was decided I’d be taken to hospital by road with the team from KSS accompanying me so they could continue my blood transfusion.”
Richard Lyon MBE, KSS’s Associate Medical Director said: “The commonest life-threatening issue for patients who suffer major injuries after an accident is bleeding. Without an early blood transfusion, trauma patients can ‘bleed out’ and die before they reach hospital. Having the ability to transfuse blood products on the side of the road can be life-saving. SERV have rapidly and reliably delivered blood products to our medical teams at several bases for over a decade. The dedication and commitment of the truly inspirational SERV volunteers has allowed us to save many lives.”
Arthur Godden, Chairman of SERV Kent, said: “On 4 February 2013, our couriers – who are volunteers – delivered the first box of blood to the Kent Air Ambulance at Marden. Since then, Kent volunteers have delivered blood and plasma to the helicopter base at Redhill Aerodrome. There is no doubt that having blood and plasma available to KSS has saved many lives.”
“We have also had a two-man response team available 24 hours a day to cover ‘direct to scene’ requirements and for the repatriation of the medical crews back to their base when they need extra assistance to continue their shift.”
“The volunteers at SERV Kent Bloodrunners are very proud to have been part of this important and life-saving project for the past 10 years and we look forward to supporting KSS in the future.”
David Welch, CEO, KSS, said: “Last year we launched our ambitious Five-Year Strategy – Working Together to Save More Lives – which highlights the fundamental importance of collaboration in achieving our vision of an end to preventable loss of life from medical emergency. Our partnership with SERV Kent demonstrates how, when two charities come together, we can save more lives, and this is only possible through the support we receive from our communities. As we mark this milestone, thank you to everyone who gives to our charities, whether through fundraising or through volunteering. We could not do what we do without you.”
As part of its commitment to continually improve patient outcomes, KSS has undertaken a number of research studies into the benefits of being able to provide blood to patients at the scene or before they arrive at hospital and findings have been shared globally. Most recently, KSS has published the findings of a study which identifies criteria for blood transfusions in patients with suspected traumatic haemorrhage. The charity is also one of ten UK Air Ambulances taking part in clinical trials to determine whether the use of whole blood on board Air Ambulances could reduce trauma death in patients. Currently, patients receive plasma and red blood cells. The trials are being led by NHS Blood and Transplant in partnership with UK Ministry of Defence and Air Ambulances UK.
For further information: www.aakss.org.uk
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Photo: Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS)