Calhoun County EMS is making a lifesaving advancement with its new Low Titer O+ Whole Blood Program.
The program has been on the horizon since 2017 when EMS Director Dustin Jenkins took over. Jenkins stated the program is one of the most significant advancements EMS has seen in years in terms of saving lives, especially when it comes to traumatic arrest.
According to Jenkins, in 2017, two departments across the nation began administering blood in the field. He further noted that since then, a handful of other departments in the nation, mainly in Texas, have jumped on board.
On Jan. 22, in Calhoun County Commissioners’ Court, a Memorandum of Understanding for the blood project was passed between Memorial Medical Center and CCEMS. Jenkins believes once the program is deployed, CCEMS will be at the forefront of the industry.
Jenkins stated that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), trauma is the leading cause of death among patients ranging from 1-44 years of age, with hemorrhagic shock having the highest occurrence of death.
The procedure in the past to patients who were losing blood was to administer a crystalloid solution after stopping the bleeding.
“The number one reason we need blood inside our body is to carry oxygen to our cells. And replacing blood with saltwater does not help in those patients who have lost a large volume of blood,” Jenkins said. “It simply does not carry enough oxygen to your vital organs.”
Furthermore, Jenkins explained more research has shown crystalloid solutions inhibit the body’s natural clotting process, which actually stops the bleeding.
The blood will be used when patients undergo hemorrhagic shock or when they lose large amounts of blood causing the body to shut down. Jenkins said common causes of hemorrhagic shock include severe burns, deep cuts, gunshot wounds, traumatic injuries, amputations, internal bleeding, and gastric problems.
Not only will the blood program help the patients, but it will also help the CCEMS medics knowing they are giving patients something that can help promote clotting (stopping bleeding) and delivers oxygen to the brain and heart.
“The patients need what they bleed,” Jenkins said.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the entire blood program is the patients’ chances of survival increase significantly.
“In the past, patients who underwent CPR on-scene from a traumatic cardiac arrest had a very low chance of survival, around 17%, and when massive hemorrhage was involved, chances are even lower,” Jenkins said. “Giving the patient blood will drastically increase survivability rates when bleeding can be stopped.”
CCEMS medics already have the basics skills in place to administer blood. Jenkins said it will only take putting those skills together and practicing them, along with learning a new protocol on when to and when not to administer.
CCEMS is working closely with MMC to make the blood program a reality. The initial launch date of the program was Feb. 14, but due to blood shortages, CCEMS is on a waiting list to begin receiving blood.
“That is why it’s very important that our community gets out to our blood drives. If you don’t know your blood type, go donate, and they can determine whether or not you are low titer O+, and, if so, you can become a “Brother-in-Arms”, an elite group of lifesavers,” Jenkins stressed.
You must be male as men tend to have lower levels of antibodies in their blood than women, which helps prevent reactions in patients who receive a transfusion. This is critical in emergency situations when there is no time to test a patient’s blood type.
“In order to be the best stewards of this precious resource, we are partnering with Memorial Medical Center. We will carry the blood for the first half of its useful life, and if it’s not used, then we will turn it over to MMC in hopes that they can use it before it expires,” Jenkins said.
“We will be promoting the “Brothers-In-Arms” Program in our County and ask everyone to go donate blood, so you can be identified and entered into the program, “Jenkins added.