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FairfaxPublic SafetyFire agencies honored for innovative blood initiative

Fire agencies honored for innovative blood initiative

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The Congressional Fire Services Institute and Masimo at an April 7 symposium and dinner honored the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department with the 2022 Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award for their innovations in the delivery of emergency medical services.

These two departments were recognized for their joint development of a pre-hospital blood program called FACT*R, which stands for Field Available Component Transfusion Response. This program enables emergency medical vehicles to carry whole blood to a scene, allowing it to be used by advanced life-support providers on trauma patients.

On Sept. 8, 2017, Loudoun fire-and-rescue crews responded to a call where a large food truck had struck a passenger vehicle at an intersection in Loudoun County. The extreme impact from the collision left the passenger vehicle and its occupants pinned underneath the bus for hours.

The crash resulted in five critically injured patients, all with heavy entrapment and limited patient access. A lengthy and complex extrication ensued as four medical-helicopter crews gave their blood products to the critically injured patients, but more blood still was needed.


Rescue personnel asked local hospitals to send additional blood to the crash site. Hospitals sent blood products to the accident scene in coolers via both law-enforcement and fire-and-rescue vehicles.

When the incident was over, a Loudoun County mother had been killed and her four passengers were critically injured. Crews finally extricated those passengers, one adult and three children, and took them to a Level-1 trauma center for definitive care. All four survived.

This incident highlighted a gap in on-scene capabilities, as well as the need for a more organized plan for similar on-scene requests in the future, officials said.

In 2019, FACT*R was launched in partnership with the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Northern Virginia EMS Council and INOVA Blood Donor Services.

FACT*R since has evolved to include carrying whole blood on Loudoun County fire-and-rescue units. This partnership has already saved lives, including a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputy who was shot in the line of duty, officials said.

“This unique program highlights the importance of the emergency medical care first-responders provide to their patients,” said Fairfax County Fire Chief John Butler. “It is an honor to be part of such an innovative collaboration.”

To make an appointment to donate at one of Inova Blood Donor Services’ upcoming community blood drives, see the Website at InovaBloodSaves.org.

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