Banner Health begins carrying blood on ambulance helicopters in Arizona

Apr 19, 2023, 1:15 PM

(Banner Health Photo)...

(Banner Health Photo)

(Banner Health Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s largest hospital system this month started carrying blood on its ambulance helicopters.

Banner Health, through a partnership with Laboratory Sciences of Arizona, has two bags of O-negative on each of its air vehicles that can be used as a potential life-saving service.

“This new service offered by BannerAir will be yet another vital tool in how we treat trauma patients who need to be airlifted to a hospital,” Richard Swedbergh, chief operating officer for Banner Health Emergency Transportation, said in a press release.

“Time is often a key factor for patients in these situations, and the ability for them to receive blood in the prehospital setting will make treatment more streamlined and increase the likelihood for more positive outcomes.”

O-negative blood is used because it’s the most common type needed for emergency transfusions.

Bags are placed into FDA-approved coolers for 72 hours on the helicopters and if they’re not used, are returned to the hospital blood bank for inpatient use.

Emergency staff also constantly monitor the temperature of the blood.

Banner has four air bases in the state, including two in metro Phoenix.

“Providing immediate life-saving blood as soon as possible improves the outcome for our patients,” Meghan Shapiro, chief operating officer for LSA, said in the release.

“Our LSA blood bank is excited to partner with BannerAir to provide this valuable resource where and when it is needed most.”

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Banner Health begins carrying blood on ambulance helicopters in Arizona