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WILKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Blood transfusion is a life-saving measure that, previously unavailable for patients of Wilke County paramedics, is being implemented successfully with its first day of administration.

After a long campaign, Wilkes County Emergency Medical Services received two blood infusion machines and two coolers that can carry up to two units of blood each or 1000 ml of blood each.

The coolers are placed on two EMS administrative trucks and administered to patients who face some sort of trauma that caused the loss of blood.

Wilkes County is extremely rural and does not have a trauma center within 45 minutes of the county line or an hour and a half for some families who live in the mountains.  

The blood transfusion allows paramedics to administer life-saving measures that would have previously not been available at first contact.  

A blood transfusion raises the chance of survival by 20% for patients who suffer trauma.  

“It’s huge from Wilkes County EMS. We are bridging the gap between the field and getting people to the hospital,” said Wilkes County Paramedic Joel Blackburn.

Blackburn has been with county EMS for ten years.  

On Friday, less than 24 hours after he received the equipment, he had to administer blood to a patient.  

“I realized that I was on a call and had the medicine that will make a difference, and it did in 15 minutes,” Blackburn said.  

EMS predicts they will administer blood transfusions up to four times a month.  

They join Stokes and Surry County EMS crews who also have the ability to do blood transfusions in the field.

Forsyth County EMS paused its procedures as it searches for more effective ways to keep the blood cooler and from expiring early.