SURRY COUNTY, N.C. -- When you've had a traumatic injury every minute counts. But in rural counties, where you're as far as 45 minutes from the closest hospital, it seems the clock is ticking even faster.
Surry County paramedics have started a new procedure that could really mean the difference between life and death. WFMY News 2 found out the county is the only one in the state now doing blood transfusions.
In traumatic cases with a lot of blood loss, paramedics are working within what's called the golden hour. That means they typically have one hour from time of the accident to getting the patient to the trauma center to improve their chances of survival.
"That 60 minute time frame, from the time the person is injured to when we can get them to a trauma center is very strong and significant in what the outcome is going to be," said John Shelton, Emergency Services Director, Surry County.
Mt. Airy is 35 miles from the closest trauma hospital and some of the towns and cities are even further with it taking an average of 45 minutes to get to those emergency rooms. Now, EMTs are able to perform blood transfusions in the field.
"Being able to administer blood in the field is going to significantly improve their chances of survival with the types of injuries that we run on a daily basis," said Shelton.
Since the county started this procedure at the beginning of the month, there has already been 2 situations where patients were losing a lot of blood. In the end, EMTs were able to stabilize the patients and the transfusion didn't happen, but the EMTs had blood on scene and were ready to go.
In a situation where an EMT thinks a transfusion is necessary, they will call their supervisor or local police who will then go to Northern Hospital of Surry County, pick up the blood and take it to the scene.
The EMTs will either do the transfusion on the accident scene or in the ambulance.
"If in fact we have already left the scene and we are in route to the hospital, we have seen that there is significant blood loss, we can't control the blood pressure, then law enforcement will intervene and will actually stop on the side of the road to administer the blood transfusion," said Shelton.
Surry County is the only place in the state that's doing this and the emergency services director says the only other EMTs they've found also doing transfusions are in Texas.