DPH authorizes Boston MedFlight to carry, transfuse blood

MedFlight has been authorized to carry blood for emergencies.

In what Boston MedFlight states is a first for any ambulance service in the commonwealth, the Department of Public Health has given the air ambulance provider permission to store, transport, and administer blood. Boston MedFlight, a nonprofit that transports from the Vineyard frequently, will roll out its blood transfusion program at its Bedford headquarters first, according to chief operating officer Andy Farkas. By the end of the first quarter of 2020, Boston MedFlight plans to have blood aboard vehicles at its Plymouth, Lawrence, and Mansfield bases, Farkas said. The program is in partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and encompasses not only Boston MedFlight’s aircraft but its ground-based vehicles, too. 

Farkas said having immediate access to blood is much better for resuscitation in a number of medical scenarios. On Veterans Day, Boston MedFlight used the program for the first time. 

A Boston MedFlight helicopter landed at the scene of a motor vehicle crash, and was able to administer blood to a traumatically injured patient, Farkas said. The crash occurred off-Island. The patient was subsequently transported. That patient is in intensive care following emergency surgery, a Boston MedFlight statement indicated. 

“This patient really benefited from that critical resource on the aircraft,” Farkas said. 

Brigham and Women’s, which is one of the consortium hospitals that launched Boston MedFlight and helps maintain the nonprofit, will be providing the blood for the program. 

“Boston MedFlight means excellence in critical-care transport,” Julia Sinclair, senior vice president for inpatient and clinical services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a release. “We are honored to be able to collaborate with them to provide their clinicians with 24-hour immediate access to appropriate blood products following life-threatening illness or injury. Our existing relationship will grow and strengthen as a result of this cooperative initiative that will help Boston MedFlight save more lives.”

While Brigham and Women’s may be the blood provider, the administration of that blood to a given patient has “no impact” on which medical facility that patient is sent to, according to Paul Joyal, Boston MedFlight director of marketing and communications.