Breakthrough for emergency services

West Midlands CARE Team join Blood on Board initiative.

A charity-funded Pre-hospital Critical Care Team that serves Birmingham and the surrounding area will carry blood on board for the first time to perform emergency blood transfusions on seriously ill and injured patients before they reach hospital.

Previously only available to a limited group of patients as part of a trial in the region, this new initiative seeks to ensure that any patient with life threatening bleeding can receive a blood transfusion as early as possible.

Blood will be carried by the West Midlands CARE Team in their response car in specially designed temperature monitored boxes and administered using a device that warms it to the body temperature.

Lt Col Matt Boylan, Clinical Director for the West Midlands CARE Team and the lead doctor overseeing the implementation of the Blood on Board project, said: “There is now a good body of evidence that supports early administration of blood products in cases of major haemorrhage. The early administration of blood will allow more patients to survive to receive lifesaving surgical intervention at our Major Trauma Centres.”

“We are keen not to limit the benefit of this initiative to Birmingham alone and so through collaboration with the West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Midlands Air Ambulance we aim over the next couple of months to expand this provision to additional platforms across the West Midlands to ensure blood products are available across region 24/7, 365 days a year.

The blood is supplied by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and will be collected daily by the Critical Care Team. Jessica Jones, QEHB Blood Bank Manager, said: “To be able to work with the West Midlands CARE Team and their partner services is an honour. We will be preparing and supplying blood products daily in specialised transport containers for the Teams to use. By recycling any unused blood back into the Hospital Blood Bank we ensure it prevents any wastage of this essential resource.”

A donation of £16,000 from the Henry Surtees Foundation has paid for the equipment required to enable the team to deliver pre-hospital transfusions. The foundation was founded by the late John Surtees CBE, an F1 race winner and four-time 500cc motorbike world champion, after the death of his 18-year-old son Henry who died while competing in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch in 2009.

A spokesperson for the Henry Surtees Foundation said “We are honoured to have played a part in the rolling out of this amazing project. The West Midlands CARE Team, West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Air Ambulance already do an incredible and vital job and offer an exceptional service, with the introduction of the Blood on Board project helping to reduce risks even further and contribute to saving lives”.

The West Midlands CARE Team relies on public donations to maintain its lifesaving service. Last year the charity responded to 1361 call-outs in Birmingham and the surrounding area. To find out how you can help, visit