ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced today a pioneering medical initiative, the Whole Blood program, that is the first to be implemented at a ground-based EMS Department in the state of Maryland. The Whole Blood Program allows trained Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services EMS supervisors to provide whole blood transfusions to critical patients before they reach the hospital. Photos from the event can be found here.
Until now, the best practice for EMS first responders who are dealing with these types of injuries was to stop the bleeding and get them to a hospital as quickly as possible. We can save time and save lives. While not every trauma patient will need a blood transfusion, the ability to provide whole blood to critical patients will increase their chances of survival even before they reach the hospital. I want to thank Secretary Strickland, our team at DFRS, the Shock Trauma Center, Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center, and every medical professional who helps saves lives in Howard County. When we all work together, we can envision and implement transformative, cutting-edge, life-saving procedures to make sure all Howard County residents and visitors are receiving the best possible medical care.
Whole blood transfusions have been recognized internationally for their efficacy in trauma care, and have historically been utilized by the military. Until now, EMS clinicians have been limited in their treatment of critically injured patients suffering from significant blood loss. The best method of treatment has been to stop the hemorrhaging before arriving at a hospital. Unfortunately, this has led to loss of critical time and even deaths.
Today's launch of the Whole Blood Program in Howard County marks a profound milestone in emergency medical care. In Maryland's Emergency Management System, well-equipped first responders are the backbone of our success, and we will continue to support their efforts to strengthen Maryland's resilience.
The Whole Blood Program allows trained staff to administer Low Titer Type O+ Whole Blood to select patients, including children and pregnant women. Whole blood contains all components- red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. Administering whole blood in an emergency has the potential to save lives. Eligibility and protocols are determined by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services.
“With the Whole Blood Program, our EMS supervisors can replace the blood that patients have lost from traumatic injuries. I have no doubt that this will lead to better outcomes for our critically injured patients and increase the number of lives we can save,” said Fire Chief Louis Winston.
From September 2022 to now, approximately 4,100 trauma patients out of nearly 20,000 total EMS patients were transported in Howard County. While not everyone who receives whole blood will be a traumatic injury patient, it is much more likely they will be. It is estimated that 50-75 traumatic patients per year could receive a whole blood transfusion.
“Trauma remains the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 45,” said HCDFRS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Levy. “Field transfusions of whole blood will slow down the clock and give our EMS clinicians extra time to get these critical patients to a hospital to address the underlying source of their bleeding.”
Howard County is the first ground-based EMS department in the state to administer this groundbreaking medical initiative. For more information about the department’s Whole Blood Program, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/fire-and-rescue-services/whole-blood-program.