July 27, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — When one of the University of Utah’s (U of U’s) AirMed helicopters take off on an emergency call, there is now a small cooler onboard containing their latest means of saving lives — blood.

The ability to transport blood to a trauma scene allows AirMed to begin a blood transfusion before the patient is delivered to the U of U’s Level 1 Trauma Center. This prehospital care is the result of a collaboration between the U of U’s Medical Transport Services and ARUP Blood Services, which is the sole blood supplier for U of U hospitals and clinics. 

“Severely injured trauma patients are at high risk of serious outcomes due to massive hemorrhage, especially in the first few hours upon arrival at the hospital. Getting blood to these patients early, even before they reach the hospital, can improve patient outcomes,” said Ryan Metcalf, MD, medical director, ARUP Blood Services.

“We are thrilled to bring this treatment option to these trauma patients in order to give them the best chance of survival and recovery,” added Metcalf, who is also an assistant professor of pathology at the U of U School of Medicine.

AirMed’s teams consist of one flight nurse and one flight medic. Their main base is the U of U hospital, and they have satellite bases in Layton, Park City, Nephi, and Tooele. The helicopters have a range of 160 miles from their base in each direction and are available 24/7. The AirMed service area covers Utah, Idaho, and parts of Wyoming.  

ARUP Blood Services will regularly transport the blood between its blood bank and AirMed’s four Utah bases to ensure blood supplies are stocked and replenished.

ARUP provided training to AirMed’s staff to teach them how to store and pack the blood for transport. O-negative blood, the universal donor type, will be available on each helicopter.

About ARUP Blood Services

ARUP Blood Services is a division of ARUP Laboratories, which is a nonprofit enterprise of the University of Utah and the Department of Pathology. ARUP Blood Services is the sole blood provider to University of Utah hospital and clinics and Huntsman Cancer Hospital,

About AirMed

AirMed was established on June 16, 1978, as the eighth air medical transport program in the nation. AirMed flies trauma, burn, medical, pediatric, neonate, high-risk OB, and cardiac assist device patients 24 hours a day with six helicopters and two airplanes placed throughout northern Utah and Wyoming. AirMed uses the most state-of-the-art equipment available, which includes digital capnography, invasive line management, and intra-aortic balloon pumps for transport. AirMed’s mission is to deliver the highest quality of care to patients and AirMed will continue to strive for excellence in every aspect of our profession.

Media Contact:

Deb Jordan, 801-583-2787 ext. 2639 or (mobile) 818-681-4681, deborah.jordan@aruplab.com