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Eastern NC Town Resolves to Save More Lives in 2020

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – Onslow County Emergency Medical Services (OCEMS) is now partnering with the community non-profit blood center, The Blood Connection (TBC), to treat patients by introducing type O positive whole blood units into life-saving medical responses. OCEMS will be one of the first EMS units in the nation to utilize whole blood to treat major blood loss on the way to the hospital.

This program will ensure that lifesaving blood transfusions can begin before a patient arrives to their designated hospital – which can be the difference between life or death in a trauma response. Every year, over 60,000 people in the U.S. die due to the aftermath of hemorrhagic trauma. Research has shown that incorporating whole blood units into a first response before a patient’s arrival to the hospital can increase their chances of survival by about 70%.

“Having a dedicated EMS unit, like OCEMS, willing to incorporate our whole blood products into their day to day response is not only a huge step for TBC, but the communities in which we serve and live,” said Delisa K. English, President and CEO of TBC. “We are very excited to be a part of OCEMS’ program and are looking forward to meeting our first patients impacted by this program in Jacksonville.

The idea of using whole blood on the scene of a trauma dates back to World War I and II during combat. Since 1970, the standard practice has shifted to dividing and storing whole blood into plasma, platelets and red blood cells – known as component therapy – in order to conserve blood donations. Fast forward to today and evidence-based research is now showing that whole blood transfusions are effective and do improve mortality rates in on the scene trauma response.

OCEMS was motivated to start this initiative based on a similar program out of San Antonio, which was the first major city in the nation to start utilizing whole blood units on EMS vehicles. 

The program, which will start mid-December, will be supported by blood donations from TBC donors. TBC is a local, non-profit community blood center dedicated to supplying area hospitals in the Carolinas and parts of Georgia with a variety of blood products. Currently, blood products collected from TBC community donors help supply 28 hospitals across the Triangle and Eastern NC.

A press conference will be held on December 16 at the Onslow County Public Safety Memorial in Jacksonville, NC at 10 a.m. OCEMS and TBC members will speak on behalf of the partnership and answer questions.