Loudoun County’s Combined Fire and Rescue System is one of the first agencies in the U.S. to carry whole blood that can be delivered to the scene of an emergency.
Whole blood is now being carried on Emergency Medical Services or EMS units in both Loudoun and Arlington Counties—a first for Virginia and the DC region. The Northern Virginia region is only the second regional coalition to do so in the country, and the first on the East Coast. It brings a level of injury care previously only available in the hospital directly to the point of injury, saving time.
Each year hemorrhage or uncontrolled bleeding accounts for nearly 1.9 million deaths worldwide, according to the department. Loss of blood is the leading cause of preventable death from injury.
Carrying whole blood is the next step in the Field Available Coordinated Transfusion Response or FACT*R program, which began in 2019 through a partnership with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Northern Virginia EMS Council, and Inova Health System.
“Loudoun will continue to work with our Northern Virginia regional EMS partners to expand this program to other jurisdictions and benefit the 2.7 million residents of Northern Virginia,” stated System Chief Keith H. Johnson. “Here in the National Capitol Region we are one team, with one mission, to provide exceptional emergency care and treatment for our communities.”
The program began after the fatal crash in 2017 on Evergreen Mills Road that killed a Loudoun mother, Erin T. Kaplan, and seriously injured her mother and three teenage children. The food truck, which had been converted from a decommissioned school bus, struck Kaplan’s car at the intersection with Watson Road and left them trapped beneath the bus.
First responders on the scene recognized that extricating them would be a lengthy process, and made the decision to have blood delivered to the scene from area hospitals, one the department called lifesaving. Paramedics were able to reach the patients inside the wreckage and provide blood.
After that accident, the concept of the regional FACT*R program was created to formally request blood on demand to an emergency scene.
“I was on the scene of that horrific accident in 2017 and witnessed, first hand, the lifesaving benefits that early administration of blood products can make,” said Doctor John Morgan, the Operational Medical Director for the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System. “Any first-of-its-kind program takes conviction, courage and confidence to succeed, and I am proud that Loudoun County is leading the way with innovative EMS practices.”
The FACT*R program relies on the availability of blood from Inova Blood Donor Services.
“Blood products donated through Inova stay local, right here in the Northern Virginia region, so your donation is truly an example of neighbors helping neighbors,” Johnson said.