DC Fire and EMS launches new Whole Blood Program to save lives

April 19, 2024

First use of whole blood transfusion under new DC program

On April 11, 2024, DC Fire and EMS marked a significant step in emergency medical care with the introduction of their Whole Blood Program.

This initiative enabled the first prehospital transfusion of low-titer type-O whole blood to a gunshot wound victim in Northeast Washington, DC.

The patient was treated on the scene by paramedics and EMTs before being transported to MedStar Washington Hospital Center for further care.

Details of the emergency response and treatment

The emergency team, comprising personnel from Medic 27, Paramedic Engine 10, and EMS 2, quickly assessed and moved the patient for immediate care.

“For patients with life-threatening hemorrhage, rapid blood transfusion as early as possible has been shown to markedly improve a patient’s chance of survival,” explained Dr. David A. Vitberg, Assistant Medical Director for DC Fire and EMS.

The program supplies are managed in partnership with the American Red Cross and George Washington University Hospital Blood Bank, showcasing a robust community and medical collaboration.

Implications of the Whole Blood Program

The program, announced earlier in January by Mayor Bowser, involves various partners, including local emergency departments and trauma centers, aiming to enhance the survival rates of critically injured patients.

Dr. Christine Trankiem, Chief of Trauma at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, affirmed, “DC Fire and EMS’s ability to provide Whole Blood is making a difference and can save lives.

“We are proud to partner with them in the care of injured trauma patients in the District.”

FSJA Comment

The integration of the Whole Blood Program by DC Fire and EMS represents a proactive approach to emergency medical services, particularly in trauma care.

This initiative enhances the immediate response capabilities and highlights the importance of community and healthcare partnerships in improving patient outcomes.

As this program continues to evolve, it serves as a model for other cities aiming to incorporate advanced prehospital care techniques that can significantly impact survival rates during critical emergencies.

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