Erlanger’s LIFE FORCE helicopters now carrying Whole Blood

Chattanooga, Tenn. – Erlanger’sLIFE FORCE Air Medical crews are now carrying units of Type O whole blood on every flight. LIFE FORCE partnered with Blood Assurance to begin utilizing Type O whole blood for transfusions given to patients who have suffered severe blood loss and require aggressive fluid resuscitation.

“With LIFE FORCE serving as a prehospital extension of Erlanger Health System’s Level 1 Trauma Center, LIFE FORCE provides the most advanced prehospital care in the region,” said Robert Maxwell, MD, medical director for LIFE FORCE. “Our ability to now provide prehospital fresh whole blood in the field to critically injured patients in shock will be a tremendous advancement for trauma care in the area. In addition to oxygen-carrying red blood cells, fresh whole blood has all of the clotting factors and proteins needed to resuscitate and stabilize patients with life threatening injuries and has been made available through a special partnership with Blood Assurance.”

In order to meet blood storage and temperature requirements, specialized equipment that has been designed for the transport environment has been added to all six LIFE FORCE helicopters. By working with Erlanger, the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, LIFE FORCE policies and procedures have been established to ensure whole blood supply management and administration.

“Every second counts when you are dealing with life-threatening hemorrhage, so by carrying whole blood products with the ability to administer them in the field could be the difference between life and death in those patients,” said Robbie Tester, Senior Director for LIFE FORCE. “Prior to carrying whole blood, LIFE FORCE carried 2 units of packed red blood cells and 2 units of liquid plasma for over 30 years which has saved countless lives and by switching to whole blood, this will allow us to strengthen the impact of our trauma care for severely injured patients.”

LIFE FORCE began operations in 1988 and currently has six bases of operations to include: Cleveland, TN, Sparta, TN, Calhoun, GA, Blue Ridge, GA, Winchester, TN and Murphy, NC. The LIFE FORCE fleet consists of four twin engine IFR helicopters and two single engine VFR helicopters. The program possesses a record of aviation excellence and safety. LIFE FORCE has also maintained accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).