Yorkshire Air Ambulance has started carrying blood on board for the first time – enabling critically injured patients to receive transfusions at the scene of an accident or in the air.
The potentially life-saving initiative has been funded through a donation of more than £16,000 from the Henry Surtees Foundation.
It was founded by motor sport legend John Surtees following the tragic death of his son Henry, who was just 18 when he was killed while competing in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch in 2009.
The donation has paid for specially designed, thermostatically controlled boxes for the safe transport and storage of blood as well as the equipment needed to warm it prior to transfusion.
Dr Jez Pinnell, medical adviser at Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “People with traumatic injuries are at greater risk from bleeding to death so having blood available on the air ambulance will benefit those patients prior to arriving at hospital. It will buy us extra time and allow us to replace the blood they’re losing.”
Leonora Surtees-Martell, daughter of the late John Surtees, said the foundation was delighted to support the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Blood will initially be carried on the helicopter flying from the charity’s air support unit at Nostell, near Wakefield, which has a doctor on board. Further paramedic training is planned to enable the service to be extended to its second helicopter based at RAF Topcliffe, near Thirsk, later this year.