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Posted on: October 15, 2020

Victoria Fire Department marks 1 year of blood transfusions in the field

Equipment including an ice chest, a bag of frozen blood and medical tubes laid out on a table.

PHOTO: Victoria Fire Department Emergency Medical Services carries equipment, shown here, to provide blood transfusions to critically ill or injured patients.

Today marks one year since the Victoria Fire Department began providing whole blood transfusions in the field, and during that time, the department has seen great improvement in health outcomes for critical patients.

“Blood transfusions are given to patients who are seriously ill or injured and who are in immediate need of lifesaving care,” said Chief Tracy Fox. “Previously they could only get that care in an emergency room, which could mean a delay of 30 minutes or more. Now, we can give it to them within a few minutes or seconds of arriving on the scene.”

One year ago, the Victoria Fire Department began carrying units of O-positive blood, which can be safely given to any patient regardless of blood type, to be administered in emergency situations. At the time, fewer than 20 ground EMS services in the U.S. were providing this type of lifesaving care.

In addition to the higher survival rate, Fox noted that prompt blood transfusions can help some patients to avoid needing surgery or other extensive care.

Fox credited Victoria Fire Department Medical Director John McNeill and Battalion Chief Tim Hunter for their leadership in implementing the program. In addition, coordination with local hospitals has been essential to ensure patients receive consistent care when they are transferred.

Blood for transfusions is provided through the Brothers in Arms program, a partnership with the South Texas Blood and Tissue center that encourages men with O-positive blood to donate on a regular basis. To ask about signing up for the program, call the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center at 361-576-3651.

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