Air ambulance blood transfusion bill signed into law

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — A New York bill allowing air ambulances to carry blood for emergency transfusion was signed into law last week. Local officials say the measure is a crucial step toward saving lives.

Until recently, New York was the only state in the country that did not allow air ambulances to carry blood for trauma victims. State Sen. Fred Akshar, who represents Broome County, is one of the co-sponsors of the bill. He said the legislation is long overdue.

Senator Fred Akshar celebrates the passage of the bill into law. (Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo/WSKG).

“To be the only state in the nation, prior to its passage and ultimately being chaptered into law, that didn’t allow air ambulances to carry blood products, seems awful counterproductive,” Akshar said.

Binghamton-area Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who also co-sponsored the bill, said in serious farming or car accidents, every minute counts.

“You want to know when that air ambulance shows up, it’s going to get you to where you’re going with all the health care that you need,” Lupardo said.

Binghamton resident Travis Flanagan lost both his legs below the knee, when he was dragged into his tractor while working on his family’s farm in March.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Binghamton resident Travis Flanagan look at the new air ambulance legislation. (Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo/WSKG)

Flanagan said he might not have survived if it weren’t for the Pennsylvania-based Guthrie Air ambulance that answered the call. The crew was able to give him two units of blood on the scene.

While recovering, Flanagan learned that New York air ambulances weren’t allowed to carry blood for trauma victims like him. He started a petition with his brother to change that.

“I had a lot of stuff that came together the day that I survived the accident, and a lot of it, I think, was luck. And one of the aspects of that luck is that Guthrie arrived and I had blood. So that fact of luck is going to be taken out of the equation,” Flanagan said.

Lupardo, Akshar, and Assemblyman Joe Angelino, who also co-sponsored the bill, said Flanagan’s story helped mobilize the push for the legislation. They gathered with Flanagan last week to celebrate its passage into law.