Tower Health to Pioneer Pre-Hospital Blood Transfusions in Pennsylvania

Phoenixville teamL to R: Kim Gennaria, EMT; Sandy Crabtree, DNP, RN, MBA, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Phoenixville Hospital ; Christopher Oberholzer, Paramedic; Brad Cosgrove, Director and Chief of Emergency Medical Services, TowerDIRECT. /Submitted Image

WEST READING, PA — Tower Health announced that its TowerDIRECT ambulances operating in the Reading and Phoenixville areas will become the first in Pennsylvania to carry blood products for transfusion directly to patients in critical need. This initiative positions TowerDIRECT paramedics as pioneers in providing life-saving blood transfusions outside of hospital settings, offering a crucial service to regional County 911 agencies.

The inception of this service traces back to April 2023 when TowerDIRECT’s Critical Care Truck (CCT) in Reading began carrying blood, administered by a pre-hospital nurse. The success of these initial efforts led to the expansion of the service, including specialized training for TowerDIRECT’s 50 paramedics to administer blood to patients experiencing hemorrhagic shock—a condition often resulting from severe injuries such as gunshot or stab wounds, motor vehicle accidents, or significant internal bleeding.

The initiative comes at a critical time, as blood centers nationwide grapple with shortages, intensified by an uptick in demand coupled with a decrease in donations. By carrying universal type O blood products, which are compatible with patients of any blood type, TowerDIRECT ambulances are equipped to provide immediate assistance to a wide range of trauma victims, potentially saving lives before reaching a hospital.

This pioneering service by TowerDIRECT not only marks an advancement in pre-hospital care but also sets a precedent for EMS agencies across the state and possibly the nation. Furthermore, the involvement of TowerDIRECT team members in developing the statewide training program for paramedics highlights a collaborative effort to enhance emergency medical services at a broader level.

Beyond the immediate benefits to patients, the initiative spotlights the importance of community involvement in addressing the ongoing blood shortage crisis. Tower Health’s encouragement for individuals to donate blood echoes the collective responsibility in sustaining the healthcare system’s ability to deliver critical care. The partnership with Miller-Keystone Blood Center exemplifies the synergy between healthcare providers and blood banks, aiming to secure a reliable blood supply for emergency and routine medical needs.

Tower Health’s introduction of ambulance-based blood transfusions represents a significant leap forward in emergency medicine, reflecting an innovative approach to improving patient outcomes during the golden hour—the critical period following traumatic injury. As TowerDIRECT continues to serve the Berks and Chester County communities, its expanded capabilities highlight the evolving nature of EMS and the pivotal role of community health initiatives in enhancing public safety and well-being.

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