STARS is the first helicopter air ambulance service in Canada to begin stocking blood in advance for life-saving transfusions on air medical missions. The STARS base in Edmonton is now the fourth to carry blood, following STARS locations in Regina, Saskatoon and Calgary.
This initiative, in conjunction with Alberta Health Services Transfusion Services and Canadian Blood Services, allows the emergency medical operation to begin a transfusion on board the helicopter without having to first stop at a hospital to pick up blood, saving precious time. Providing critical care within the first hour of an emergency, often referred to as the “golden hour”, helps reduce the chances of death or permanent damage.
STARS maintains four Credo coolers of blood throughout the Edmonton region, stored at STARS’ Edmonton base, the University of Alberta Hospital Blood Bank, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Blood Bank and the Leduc Community Hospital. Each cooler contains two units of blood in an insulated thermal cooler with a monitoring device to ensure proper temperature. If the blood is not used within 96 hours, it is returned to the hospital, inspected to ensure quality, and then made available to other patients.
“In the case of a patient in critical condition due to trauma or bleeding, blood can make the difference between life and death. Having this vital resource on board the aircraft for our crews will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of countless patients,” says Dr. Eddie Chang, transport physician and medical director for STARS in Edmonton.
“Working collaboratively with Canadian Blood Services and Alberta Health Services, our ability to give blood is a powerful complement to our highly trained air medical crews providing critical care while rapidly transporting the severely injured trauma patient to our tertiary care centres,” says Dr. Chang.
STARS provides specialized emergency medical care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. Our physicians, nurses, paramedics and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to save lives. STARS has bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
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