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Partnership aims to speed blood delivery to remote Island communities

Vancouver Island residents in need of an emergency blood transfusion — especially those living in isolated communities — will get one faster now that air ambulance paramedics on the Island have full-time access to blood products from Nanaimo

Vancouver Island residents in need of an emergency blood transfusion — especially those living in isolated communities — will get one faster now that air ambulance paramedics on the Island have full-time access to blood products from Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Island Health and B.C. Emergency Health Services announced a new partnership on Thursday that sees blood products available at all times from the BCEHS ambulance helicopter, which is based in Parksville.

Prior to the program launch, pre-hospital blood was only available through crews dispatched from Vancouver International Airport.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to blood transfusions to help save lives,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“This new service means paramedics have access to crucial blood products around the clock, full-time, so they can continue providing high-quality critical care when every minute can make a difference in a life-saving situation on the Island.”

Under the new program, two units of blood, prepared at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and stored in special temperature-controlled, secure coolers, will be available at all times on the helicopter.

If the blood is unused after four days, the coolers will be replaced with a fresh batch of blood.

“Having full-time access to blood products out of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and storing them with our ­critical care paramedic crews will greatly improve our speed of delivery for isolated Vancouver Island communities, such as Bamfield, Tahsis or Port Renfrew,” said Kevin Lambert, a critical care paramedic.

“We can arrive more quickly at a scene and start a transfusion much earlier while providing advanced care on the way to a trauma centre.”

parrais@timescolonist.com