Life-Saving Whole Blood is Now Carried on All Air Methods Medical Helicopters in Arizona


Improving patient outcomes by transfusing donated whole blood to save lives in the air

Whole blood makes a difference for patients in Arizona

All LifeNet, Native Air, and TriState CareFlight medical helicopters now carry life-saving whole blood to administer in flight when needed. Photo courtesy of TriState CareFlight.
All LifeNet, Native Air, and TriState CareFlight medical helicopters now carry life-saving whole blood to administer in flight when needed. Photo courtesy of TriState CareFlight.

Phoenix, AZ, June 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The LifeNet, Native Air, and TriState CareFlight programs across Arizona are proud to announce they now carry and can administer whole blood onboard every air medical transport via helicopter. These programs are all part of Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the nation. Having whole blood aboard their helicopters allows their industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional life-saving care when every minute counts. 

“There is no question that whole blood is better than separate blood components, and it is safe for patients of all ages,” said Scott Hax, flight paramedic with Native Air 18 in Show Low.  

Each unit of whole blood provides red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and clotting factors for superior outcomes for patients suffering from trauma or hemorrhagic shock. It is particularly valuable in rural areas where there may be limited access to donated blood. Since the Air Methods programs all carry their own blood supply, their clinicians can administer it in-flight while preserving hospital stock. The crews previously carried packed red blood cells and plasma and are excited to now carry whole blood which delivers oxygen around the body more effectively.  

The earlier patients receive whole blood, the better their outcomes, showing the significance of pre-hospital transfusion. Moderately to severely injured patients, including those with head injuries, particularly benefit from whole blood transfusions. 

“Using whole blood offers several advantages over component therapy,” said Air Methods Clinical Director Kait Price. “Whole blood contains all components necessary for effective resuscitation, which can be crucial in treating trauma patients who require rapid transfusion. This comprehensive approach minimizes delays and optimizes patient outcomes by addressing multiple needs simultaneously, making it a superior option for critical care in high-stress environments like pre-hospital care.” 

According to the National Institutes of Health, the ability to separate blood into its different components was developed in 1940, and it became more common to administer blood products due, in part, to the improved ability to store them. However, blood components don’t carry oxygen as well as whole blood, and during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the military brought whole blood transfusion back into favor. Doctors found that using warm whole blood allowed trauma patients to recover faster and live longer. Additionally, using universal, low-titer O blood is not only safe in both children and adults, but it also eliminates the time needed to test patients for blood type when every minute counts in an emergency.    

All Air Methods clinicians have at least three years of experience in an emergency or intensive care setting before joining a flight crew. They receive ongoing advanced training, and every nurse and paramedic has access to Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Air Methods Ascend is available to medical personnel across the country. 



CONTACT: Denisse Coffman Air Methods 720-666-8499 [email protected] 

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