(WSVN) - Life and death can hang in the balance after a serious accident. But Broward first responders say they have the key to buying more time for patients, and saving their lives. Karen Hensel has today’s 7 Spotlight.

Whether on the ground, or in the air, emergency medical technicians are trained to help save lives. Now, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue has a new tool they say will save even more.

Broward Sheriff EMT’s are the first in Florida to carry and administer blood to trauma victims at accident scenes.

Chief Medical Officer James Roach came up with the idea after a family member was involved in a bus accident and didn’t survive.

James Roach, Chief Medical Officer, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue: “What tools do we provide for our rescues? Because currently, what we do is, we think about stopping the bleed, but we don’t really have a way to resuscitate.”

Now they do, and the blood can help keep patients stable enough to make it the hospital.

James Roach: “We replace exactly what the human lost, and that reverses the effects of traumatic shock.”

Division Chief Heath Clarks says EMT’s usually give IV fluids to a patient, but they don’t really help when someone is losing blood.

Heath Clark: “It turns out, when you’re bleeding out red stuff, the best thing to replace it with is red stuff.”

BSO started testing the program in 2021.

Heath Clark: “We’ve given blood 116 times since January of ’21. Of those 116 times, 73% of those patients have made it past the 24-hour mark, which is a remarkable thing.”

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue uses O-positive, Rh negative blood. It’s kept just above freezing at two locations in Broward; one of them here at the BSO Air Rescue Unit.

James Roach: “Putting this kind of therapy in the hands of fire rescue is a game changer in terms of helping our community.”

EMT’s pack the bags of blood into an insulated box and head to the scene either by vehicle or helicopter.

Dionny Baez, whole blood recipient: “It saves lives. I’m not the only story; there are many other stories of lives that have been saved by it.”

Dionny Baez was one of the first recipients of the blood. While spearfishing off the coast of Broward County in 2021, he was run over by a boat.

Dionny Baez: “So I had a collapsed lung, open head, lacerated liver, broken leg. I was dying.”

EMT Capt. Dean Meadows came to Dionny’s rescue, and says blood was exactly what he needed.

Capt. Dean Meadows, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue: “Within three to five minutes, his blood pressure came up. He was able to lift his head at that point and speak; he whispered to me, whatever I’m doing to keep doing it.”

Dionny spent two weeks in the hospital. He is now one of BSO’s biggest advocates for the blood program.

Dionny Baez: “I believe this really can save lives as it saved my life.”

The program is not limited to patients in Broward County. If blood is needed, BSO says it will respond to accidents all across South Florida.

Karen Hensel, 7News.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue officials say you can help keep the program going by donating blood. If you would like to donate, click here for more information.

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