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PHI Air Medical and Rush Health Systems work to conserve blood

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 4:48 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In a time of trauma or medical emergency, it’s important to get the person immediate care. PHI Air Medical of Mississippi does that on a regular basis. The team gets there quickly and is able to provide a high-level of care.

“There’s a lot of complications that can result from not giving patients care right away. That’s why we call it the golden hour. With blood, if you miss that opportunity, it can snowball into some very bad pathophysiology,” Patrick Kirkland, M.D. said.

Rush Health Systems partnered with PHI Air Medical over the summer. Manager of Business Operations for PHI said this partnership helps both companies. It’s also a plus for PHI when it comes to keeping a supply of blood on the helicopter.

“That was something we couldn’t do without Rush’s assistance. We are able to obtain blood with our other bases across the country, but it’s a logistical nightmare to be honest,” Manager of Business Operations for PHI Air Medical explained. “With Rush we are able to eliminate any type of waste because we are able to return it before it expires and it still gets used.”

Having blood onboard the EC-135 helicopter is a major benefit for anyone in a time of need. It allows for almost immediate transfusions. That’s critical and can mean the difference between life and death.

“When the PHI Medical Team has provided this treatment for the patient, it truly can be life-saving. It’s important in the emergency department, ICU and surgery to have already had that treatment started,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland explained that trauma is the number cause of death for patients in America that are under the age of 40. He said around 60,000 patients die every year from blood loss.

“We often look at the helicopter and wonder what kind of life-threatening condition is in there. To know that your blood that you donated is on that helicopter is a really good feeling,” Kirkland said.

The space inside of the helicopter is compact. The medical flight team have taken extra precautions because they deal with COVID positive patients. Even with the increased risk of exposure, no one on the team has contracted the virus.

“When you think of the flight team being in a very compact area with a positive COVID patient without getting the COVID virus, then their protective measures work,” Marshall said.

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