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The Orlando Health Air Care Team expands services to include in-flight and on-scene blood transfusions for adults and pediatric patients

Treatment by the air medical crew now includes blood products onboard its three medical helicopters for immediate patient care.

Orlando, FL (September 24, 2019) – The Orlando Health Air Care Team recently began carrying blood products onboard its three medical helicopters to provide emergency blood transfusions in-flight or on-scene to adult and pediatric patients with life-threatening bleeding. 

“We are excited and proud to enhance the advanced level of care we provide the community at the scene and in-flight,” said Taryn Capasso, RN, BSN, NREMT-P, CFRN, manager, Air Care Team. “Adding an additional lifesaving intervention to the care we deliver to patients in need is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the best care for our patients.”

Emergency blood transfusions may be needed to treat injuries from motor vehicle crashes, crushing incidents, penetrating trauma (gunshots and stab wound) and other occurrences. Prior to the new services, blood transfusions were only available once a patient arrived at a hospital. 

The change is the result of input and recommendations from the Orlando Health adult and pediatric trauma teams, the American College of Surgeons and the emergency medical services community.

“Our decision was also based on recent evidence showing a combination of blood products (packed red blood cells and plasma) used by air medical personnel may be beneficial,” said Christopher Hunter, MD, medical director, Air Care Team.

“As the air medical flight team, we are an extension of our Level I trauma center,” said Ty Campbell, BSN, RN, EMT-P, CCRN CEN, chief flight nurse, Air Care Team. “Our goal is to bring as much as possible from the hospital to our patients outside of the hospital. For this new service, we spent months planning and training to prepare. With our new protocol we can administer plasma and red blood cells, helping replace blood loss sooner.”

In addition to the immediate patient care benefit, beginning transfusions prior to hospital arrival allows additional treatments at hospitals to begin faster.

“Often times when people think of medical helicopters they think only about the efficiency in transport time,” said Michael Talento, MS, NRP, CCEMT-P, FP-C, chief flight paramedic, Air Care Team.  “It’s also about the timely delivery of advanced care.”

Prior to offering blood transfusions, the Air Care Team used tranexamic acid, a medication to help control bleeding and stabilize patients. The Air Care Team will continue to use the medication as a treatment option.

The Air Care Team is Central Florida’s only hospital-based multiple aircraft flight program. Inside each helicopter, the in-flight team consists of a flight nurse, a flight paramedic and a pilot. Stationed on the ground, the Air Care Team’s communications specialists use state-of-the-art technology to dispatch calls, track the helicopters, and share and receive information from the medical crew and the Level One Trauma Center at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC).

The 55 member crew of highly trained and experienced flight nurses, flight paramedics, communications specialists, pilots and mechanics provide advanced medical care on the scene and in flight. The air medical flight team is one of the highest credentialed teams in the state. Air Care Team’s service area encompasses a 50-mile radius that covers multiple counties across Central Florida including Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Sumter, Polk, Volusia, Brevard, and Marion Counties.

The flight program began in October 1984 and has soared more than 2.4 million accident-free miles, and transported more than 35,000 patients. The team began with a single twin engine helicopter located at ORMC and has grown to three twin engine helicopters across Central Florida — Kissimmee (Air Care 1), Leesburg (Air Care 2) and Longwood (Air Care 3). 

Air Methods, a leader in providing emergency air medical services to the health care industry for 39 years, provides the aviation services to the Air Care Team. 

About Orlando Health 

Orlando Health is a $3.8 billion not-for-profit healthcare organization and a community-based network of hospitals, physician practices and outpatient care centers across Central Florida. The organization is home to the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, and is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. More than 3,100 physicians have privileges across the system, which is also one of the area’s largest employers with more than 20,200 employees who serve more than 97,000 inpatients, more than 2.5 million outpatients, and more than 4,800 international patients each year.  Additionally, Orlando Health provides more than $360 million in total value to the community in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more. Additional information can be found at www.orlandohealth.com.

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