Frisco rolls out blood transfusion program

When a person sustains a traumatic injury, minutes matter.

Frisco Fire Department responded to a construction accident in December at The Star in Frisco. A 6,000-pound object crushed a worker’s pelvis, and the man experienced significant blood loss.

Normally the man would have had to wait to be transported to a trauma center to receive a blood transfusion, but the fire department’s recent implementation of a program allowed the construction worker to receive the life-saving procedure at the scene of the accident, ultimately helping him survive.

Frisco Fire Department rolled out a pre-hospital blood transfusion program in December. The fire department is the first in North Texas to have a program like this, Frisco Medical Director Dr. Mark Gamber said.

Many trauma patients go into hemorrhagic shock, where the patient’s blood pressure drops after blood loss, Gamber said.

“Most people that are going to die from hemorrhagic shock die in the first hour,” he said. “That means there’s nobody better to deliver the product than [the fire department]because we’re the first ones there.”

Much of the research behind the program came from the military, where personnel have learned in war zones that people have a better chance of survival if they are given a transfusion as quickly as possible, Gamber said.

Implementing the blood transfusion program was a two-year process, said Jake Owen, Frisco battalion chief for emergency medical services. The fire department partnered with Medical City Plano, which supplies the red blood cells and plasma.

The department stores blood products at the Central Fire Station as well as on a squad vehicle. Because there is no such thing as a certified mobile blood bank refrigerator, the department had to figure out how to create one, Owen said.

The department took a vehicle refrigerator and installed lab equipment inside to monitor the temperature of the blood products to ensure they stayed cool. Owen said the fire department switches out its blood inventory about once a week, giving any unused blood back to Medical City Plano to be used for other patients.

“We wanted to be very, very thorough in making sure we’re not wasting any [blood]product,” Owen said.

The protocol the department uses to administer a blood transfusion is the same used at the highest level of trauma centers, Owen said.

“I live in Frisco, and I feel a whole lot better knowing that this [service]is available in the instance that a family or friend needs it,” Gamber said.

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