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Canton Fire Department to Launch Groundbreaking Field Transfusion Paramedic Program to Enhance Prehospital Care of Trauma Patients

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February 16, 2024 | MASSACHUSETTS Canton Fire Department, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

CANTON, MA - Town Administrator Charles Doody and Fire Chief Wendell Robery are pleased to announce a new EMS program launching in Canton that will provide a significant advancement in the treatment of trauma patients in Massachusetts. 

The Field Transfusion Paramedic Program is a collaboration between the Canton Fire Department and Boston Medical Center. It will allow trained firefighters to transfuse Low Titer O Whole Blood (LTOWB) to trauma patients during transport. 

The Coalition for National Trauma Research notes that trauma is the number one cause of death for people aged 1-46. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of EMS: "exsanguination remains the leading cause of preventable deaths among victims of trauma with nearly half of those patients dying in the prehospital setting." In cases of trauma, it is critically important that patients receive definitive, comprehensive care for the greatest likelihood of survival. 

Receiving whole blood prior to arriving at a Trauma Center allows for a decrease in the time it takes a patient to receive potentially lifesaving emergency resuscitation, which has been associated with a greater likelihood of survival and a greater chance of receiving definitive care. LTOWB is a notable treatment because it contains a 1:1:1 ratio of red cells, platelets and plasma. The American Red Cross describes LTOWB as an "all-in-one transfusion therapy to treat bleeding patients."

The Canton Fire Field Transfusion Paramedic Program has been in the works for over three years and recently received the necessary authorizations to begin paramedic training. The new agreement allows the Canton Fire Department to train 12-16 firefighter/paramedics who would be available 24/7 to respond as part of a Whole Blood Transfusion team. Two firefighters are needed to transfuse LTOWB in the field.

Once fully launched, it is believed that Canton Fire will be the only EMS provider in the Northeast region of the U.S. to have LTWOB available to treat patients at the scene of injury and while enroute to Trauma Centers.

In addition to serving Canton, the Whole Blood Transfusion team will also be able to respond as mutual aid to assist other EMS providers in the region with trauma transports. The team first deployed in December to support EMS providers at the Army-Navy football game at Gillette Stadium.

"The Field Transfusion Paramedic Program is a great achievement for our fire department after three-plus years of work to get the procedures, funding and state approval in place," Town Administrator Doody said. "We are looking forward to implementing this program in Canton and are grateful for our partnership with the Boston Medical Center and support from the Select Board."

The program will be overseen by BMC trauma surgeon Dr. Crisanto Torres, the BMC Blood Bank, medical director Dr. Michael Valkanas, Dr. Daniel Muse and Canton FF/Paramedic Leo Reardon.

This program is made possible through federal funding awarded to the Southeast Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council by the Office of Grants and Research. Canton officials would also like to thank Ben Podsiadlo of the state's Office of Grants and Research Homeland Security Division for his support. All of the equipment necessary to launch the program was purchased with grant funds, and all training costs are covered within the departmental budget. 

"This new program is a significant enhancement to the immediate, lifesaving care that we will be able to provide critically injured patients," Chief Robery said. "I would like to commend FF/Paramedic Reardon on his work with our partners to put this important program in place." 

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Canton Fire DepartmentCorrespondent

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