Local ambulances will carry whole blood, potentially saving lives on the way to hospital

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A new program spreading to the streets of south Hampton Roads could save lives and lower the homicide rate.

The The Tidewater Emergency Medical Services Board is going to donate whole blood in the field to give IVs to trauma patients before they get to the hospital.

Currently, local emergency services are limited in what they can do for victims of shootings, stabbings and serious car accidents.

“Basically, all we do is start a drip so we can keep the vein open and get to the hospital very quickly,” said Virginia Beach EMS Chief Ed Brazle.

That will soon change. Tidewater Emergency Medical Services Council Executive Director David Long told WAVY, “They’re going to have this portable blood cooler that stores whole blood.”

Two EMS supervisors in each of the five southern cities will have one.

“It’s taking the gold standard of care out of the emergency room and into the field,” Brazl said.

The sensor monitors the temperature of the blood and will notify the provider through the app if it gets too warm.

“For patients with serious injuries, this can significantly increase the chances of survival,” Brazl said.

Studies show that up to 25% of trauma deaths are potentially survivable.

Long said the program is already saving lives in other cities. “They talked about lowering the homicide rate in New Orleans because of the people they were saving.”

Although you can’t put a price on life, the program will cost about $250,000 in the first year to buy equipment and blood. Once the equipment is purchased, Long estimates it will cost about $150,000 a year thereafter.

The initial rollout of the program is planned for October in Virginia Beach, with planned expansion to other regions.

Click here to learn more about the program and how you can support it.

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