Northampton EMS will carry whole blood

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

JACKSON – “This will be one giant leap in trauma care services for a rural county.”

That’s what Northampton County EMS Director Paul Nowell said about a proposal for the county’s EMS service to begin carrying whole blood. He presented the information to the Board of Commissioners at their meeting on Sept. 19.

“Our county doesn’t have a hospital. It doesn’t have an urgent care center,” Nowell explained. “This blood, if approved, will be on our supervisor vehicle and will be available 24/7 countywide.”

Only a few other counties in North Carolina provide this kind of service.

“This will prevent a citizen from bleeding to death,” he continued.

The recommendation to improve county EMS trauma care services by having blood on-hand came last year from representatives from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of EMS. Nowell said they suggested the county should carry at least two pints of blood.

Once the county EMS department started considering the idea, Nowell said they partnered with ECU Health Systems to provide the necessary training for the paramedics.

Commissioner Nicole Boone asked if that training will need to be done annually. Nowell explained that they recorded the training to show to all new employees and to be used for continuing education. If procedure and protocols change, then they will update the information.

The blood itself will be provided by The Blood Connection (TBC), a nonprofit organization that operates community blood donation centers throughout the state. Nowell presented a contract for Board approval.

He explained that TBC and the American Red Cross are the only two providers in the state, and the Red Cross is not accepting new clients at this time. TBC will replenish the blood supply every 14 days, or within a day if the current supply is used. In the case of a mass casualty event, Nowell estimated that TBC would be able to deliver more blood in less than two hours.

Nowell concluded his request by noting that this medical service was accounted for in the current fiscal year’s budget, and no additional funds will be needed.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards motioned to approve the contract, and Commissioner Joyce Buffaloe seconded. There was no further discussion, and the vote passed unanimously in favor.