An Eastern NC County is Resolving to Save More Lives in 2020

Onslow County Emergency Medical Services will begin offering whole blood units to trauma victims during transport

Onslow County Emergency Medical Services will begin offering whole blood units to trauma victims during transport. (Photo: Business Wire)

JACKSONVILLE, N.C.--()--Onslow County Emergency Medical Services (OCEMS) is now partnering with the community non-profit blood center, The Blood Connection (TBC), to treat patients by introducing type O positive whole blood units into life-saving medical responses. OCEMS will be one of the first EMS units in the nation to utilize whole blood to treat major blood loss on the way to the hospital.

“We are proud to lead the way as one of the first EMS systems to carry whole blood in the country and the very first in the state of N.C,” said David Grovdahl, OCEMS Division Head. “This partnership (OCEMS and TBC) shows that we are not one agency, we are a partnership with one mission which is to provide care for our community.”

This program will ensure that lifesaving blood transfusions can begin before a patient arrives to their designated hospital – which can be the difference between life or death in a trauma response. Every year, over 60,000 people in the U.S. die due to the aftermath of hemorrhagic trauma. Research has shown that incorporating whole blood units into a first response before a patient’s arrival to the hospital can increase their chances of survival by about 70%.

“Having a dedicated EMS unit, like OCEMS, willing to incorporate our whole blood products into their day to day response is not only a huge step for TBC, but the communities in which we serve and live,” said Delisa K. English, President and CEO of TBC. “We are very excited to be a part of OCEMS’ program and are looking forward to meeting our first patients impacted by this program in Jacksonville."

The idea of using whole blood on the scene of a trauma dates back to World War I and II during combat. Since 1970, the standard practice has shifted to dividing and storing whole blood into plasma, platelets and red blood cells – known as component therapy – in order to conserve blood donations. Fast forward to today and evidence-based research is now showing that whole blood transfusions are effective and do improve mortality rates in on the scene trauma response.

OCEMS was motivated to start this initiative based on a similar program out of San Antonio, TX which was the first major city in the nation to start utilizing whole blood units on EMS vehicles. OCEMS responds to over 23,000 calls per year and sees a significant number of high-level traumas. OCEMS believes that the success realized by the San Antonio team can be replicated in Onslow County.

The program, which will start mid-December, will be supported by blood donations from TBC donors. TBC is a local, non-profit community blood center dedicated to supplying area hospitals in the Carolinas and parts of Georgia with a variety of blood products. Currently, blood products collected from TBC community donors help supply 28 hospitals across the Triangle and Eastern NC.

A press conference was held on December 16 at the Onslow County Public Safety Memorial in Jacksonville, NC to announce the new partnership. Representatives from OCEMS and TBC spoke on behalf of the partnership.

About The Blood Connection

The Blood Connection has been committed to saving lives since 1962. Founded in Greenville, South Carolina, TBC is an independently managed, not-for-profit, community blood center that provides blood products to more than 70 hospitals within Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Recognized by the U.S. Congress for its dedication to disaster preparedness and the community, TBC works diligently to collect blood from volunteer donors to meet the ever-increasing demand. By keeping collections local, TBC serves hundreds of thousands of patients a year in its communities. TBC is licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more information, visit


Maddie Laing


Maddie Laing