New Tool for Air Ambulance - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

New Tool for Air Ambulance

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By: Claire Powell
Twitter: clairenpowell

Tuesday, Life Flight Air Ambulance announced they have another tool to help patients as soon as the helicopter lands.

The Life Flight helicopter is now the only Iowa aircraft that can carry blood on board.

July marked the start of the Blood Project, the beginning of Life Flight carrying two units of O-negative blood and two units of plasma on each mission. The liquid will be held in containers that can maintain the same temperature for up to twenty-four hours.

"Being the only program in Iowa to have the products available on every mission, every flight, is crucial," said Michael Zweigart, Life Flight Manager. 

The paramedics had additional training and one-on-one sessions with the blood bank.

"With severely injured people, the sooner we are able to replace the blood and the clotting factors, the better they'll recover," said Dr. Rick Sidwell, trauma surgeon. 

"A lot of the hospitals don't have a lot of the resources to provide this type of treatment so it's just one more thing we can bring to our patients," said Rick Kallemeier, Life Flight paramedic.

The blood can be used for trauma patients or any other blood related emergencies such as a stroke.

"We had to prove, by utilizing and bringing this product out to the patients, that it was actually saving lives," said Kallemeier. 

But with the blood on board, the paramedics can increase patients chance of survival.

"One more extension of bringing trauma services and trauma care to those patients that need it quickly, it's a life saving tool. It's a life saving component of taking care of trauma patients," said Kallemeier.

Iowa's Life Flight is also one of the few in the country to carry blood directly to their patients.

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