The success of the Henry Surtees Foundation (HSF) has allowed them to be able to support the Great North Air Ambulance Service as they deliver and carry out blood transfusions at the scene of life threatening accidents. The charity, set up by John Surtees OBE, will also aid local Blood Bike groups.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is one of only a handful of air ambulances in the world that performs the potentially life-saving procedure of a blood transfusion, and thanks to the support of HSF, now has the capacity to deliver fresh blood supplies to the scene of accidents.
The service is collaboration between GNAAS, the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, two Blood Bike groups in Northumbria and Cumbria, and the support of the funding of equipment and vehicles by the Henry Surtees Foundation. The vehicles, which include Vauxhall Mokka 1.7CDTi 4×4 SUVs for both Blood Bike groups, will be delivered before the end of this month.
Surtees understands the importance of getting to the scenes of accidents quickly after his lifetime of being around motorsport, and believes that the addition of the Newcastle service will save many lives.
“With a background in motorsport, I have spent my life largely chasing time round the race tracks of the world,” said Surtees. “I know that every second counts and none more so than for the Air Ambulance Services when accidents or illnesses occur.
“Last year the foundation supported the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust, with a similar initiative. We supplied funding for equipment and vehicles to enable them to provide blood transfusions at the scene of an accident. This has had an immediate result in the saving of injury and life. During the first year alone, over 70 transfusions were successfully carried out.
“I was anxious to try and help other regions provide the same sort of additional service. We have now concluded an agreement with The Great North Air Ambulance Service in providing them with funding to purchase equipment.
“In addition, we are providing the Cumbria Blood Bikes and Northumbria Blood Bikes with two 4-wheel drive Vauxhall Mokka vehicles so as to give them all-weather transport for the ferrying of blood between hospital and aircraft, and return.
“The Great North Air Ambulance Service provides an exceptional service, but if we can help them reduce risk even further then we have done a good thing!”
Peter Robertson, the Chairman of Northumbria Blood Bikes welcomed HSF’s involvement and assistance in the scheme.
“The Blood Bikes are a vital tool in this operation, transporting the units of blood from the hospital to the Air Ambulances; we will also return any unused blood is to the hospitals to be used there,” said Robertson. “We are delighted that John Surtees has chosen to support us with the provision of these vehicles”.
GNAAS doctor Rachel Hawes has witnessed the blood transfusion technique while part of the Territorial Army in Afghanistan, and recognised its potential to the NHS.
“One of the first things medics have to do is stop any bleeding to save a patient’s life and many seriously injured patients risk bleeding to death,” said Hawes. “This project will bring life-saving treatment to the patient’s point of injury. That could be on the roadside, on a hill top, or in a remote community, in cases where previously the patient has had to wait until they get to hospital.
“This will transform pre-hospital care and save multiple lives. It is going to be of huge benefit to the region.”