Mayor Bowser Announces New, Lifesaving Pre-Hospital Blood Transfusion Program
(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department announced the Whole Blood Program, an initiative designed to support and train paramedics in performing pre-hospital blood transfusions in partnership with the American Red Cross. The Whole Blood Program is designed to increase survival rates and clinical outcomes for patients suffering from traumatic injuries, hemorrhagic shock, or severe bleeding by decreasing the amount of time it takes to replace lost blood.
“This is a partnership that will save lives. The Whole Blood Program is one more way we are delivering high quality, integrated care and transforming our health care system so that more people get the right care at the right time,” said Mayor Bowser. “But blood supplies are low nationwide, and we know that the people who make these programs work are the people who step up to donate blood. If you are able to donate blood, we are encouraging you to do so, either at the Red Cross Headquarters or at a blood drive in the community.”
Through this partnership, blood collected and supplied by the American Red Cross to George Washington University Hospital’s blood bank will be made available to Fire and EMS paramedics and placed in temperature controlled and monitored medical storage devices throughout firehouses and EMS units across DC. From there, paramedics will carry blood directly to medical incidents for pre-hospital transfusion.
“Fire and EMS paramedics are lifesavers, and adding this tool to their capabilities will allow them to provide the best care possible to their patients. I am very thankful for everyone working together to get this implemented,” said John A. Donnelly, Sr., Chief of DC Fire and EMS.
Evidence suggests early whole blood administration in severely injured trauma patients can increase survivability. A 2022 study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons determined that whole blood increased 30-day survival 60% and reduced the need for blood product transfusion during the first 24-hours of hospitalization by seven percent. “Whole blood” contains all blood components – including red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. When a patient is bleeding profusely, they lose all of these components – and all three of these components can be replaced by transfusing whole blood. All blood provided will be universal “Type-O” and “Low-titer.” All blood donors are screened to ensure they have low levels of antibodies, allowing blood to be safely transfused into patients with any blood type.
District government continues to partner with the American Red Cross to address the nationwide blood supply issue. Individuals can donate blood any day of the week at the National Red Cross Headquarters in Downtown DC. Additionally, on Thursday, February 22, Fire and EMS will host a community blood drive event at St. Luke’s Center in Ward 7 on February 22, 2024, from 10:30a- 3:30p at 4923 East Capital St SE. Paramedics will be onsite for demonstrations. Those interested in making an appointment to donate blood on February 22 can register by going to redcrossblood.org and entering the code “ST LUKE DC” (with spaces) in the “find a blood drive” box in the upper righthand corner, or by clicking here.
For more information on the Whole Blood Program, visit fems.dc.gov/page/whole-blood.