WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance has a new addition to its life-saving kit to treat critically injured or unwell patients.

The charity is now carrying plasma onboard, which will be used with O negative blood (packed red blood cells).

Its helicopter and rapid response vehicles have been carrying packed red blood cells since August 2015 and 72 patients have been given pre-hospital blood transfusions by its critical care paramedics and doctors.

The packed red blood cells help carry oxygen around the body and replaces blood lost by patients, while plasma is used to help to stop bleeding.

Ben Abbott, critical care paramedic and operations officer at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We believe the addition of plasma will make a significant difference to the care of patients who require emergency pre-hospital blood transfusions and improve their chances of reaching hospital alive in order for them to receive further emergency treatment.

“We’ve been giving pre-hospital blood transfusions since 2015 and we have seen the visible difference they can make to critically injured or unwell patients who are bleeding as a result of trauma or acute medical conditions. Blood products are a precious commodity and emergency blood transfusions can save lives.

“It is a privilege for the critical care team at Wiltshire Air Ambulance to be able to give blood and plasma to patients who require it in the pre-hospital environment.”

The plasma carried by Wiltshire Air Ambulance, called LyoPlas, is freeze dried and is in powder form in a glass vial. It is mixed with water to form a yellow liquid before it is given intravenously.

Richard Miller, clinical services and ground base manager at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “Our paramedics and doctors provide gold standard medical care to patients and the addition of plasma is an enhancement to our service.

“Having blood products on board our aircraft and Rapid Response Vehicles is only possible thanks to the kind donations our charity receives from the community, businesses and grant-making trusts to run our vital service.”