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Captain Matt Shook receives a cooler of O negative blood from Bridget Lewis, Transfusion Medicine Supervisor at UNC Health Blue Ridge

Caldwell County EMS Now Able To Provide Blood Transfusions Prior To Hospital Arrival

For more than two years, Caldwell County EMS had searched for a way to provide blood transfusions to patients before they reached a medical center. Now, through a partnership with UNC Health Blue Ridge, Caldwell EMS carries blood on all supervisor trucks.

EMS Training Coordinator Blake Cochran says in a news release issued by Caldwell County Government “Within the first hour of a trauma or life-threatening hemorrhage, mortality rates are high if not treated or taken directly into an operating room. Blood can prolong that time and significantly increase the potential for survival.”

EMS staff have received training on how and when to administer blood, and supervisors carry O negative blood on their trucks. To ensure blood is not wasted, the temperature is constantly monitored using coolers donated by UNC Health Blue Ridge and is changed out with the hospital every 21 days.

The hospital also collaborates with Burke and McDowell counties to provide blood products to their EMS departments. However, these three departments are among only a few in the state to carry blood on ambulances.