THEY are the high-flying emergency vehicles that deal with the most serious of incidents.

Now the life-saving efforts of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) will be boosted because it can carry blood supplies on board all flights.

The air ambulances are now able to store blood in the helicopter at the required temperature by using technology first used by the British military in Afghanistan.

The most common causes of death for seriously injured patients before reaching hospital are problems with getting oxygen into the lungs or significant blood loss.

Air ambulance paramedics were previously unable to replace blood lost from wounds or internal bleeding before reaching hospital.

The blood on board will be type O negative – also known as the “universal donor” – as it is safe to give to any patient.

It will be packed into a cool box and electronically scanned to record patient details.

A unique patient wrist band will then be printed from the box to ensure the hospital team know blood has been given.

The blood will be transferred from Southampton General Hospital to the HIOWAA’s air base in Thruxton every 48 hours.

Dr Liz Shrewy, a major trauma anaesthetist at Southampton General Hospital, said: “HIOWAA carries a highly experienced team of consultant critical care doctors and HEMS paramedics who specialise in the rapid stabilisation of patients at the roadside and subsequent transfer to the nearest trauma centre.

“Having blood on board takes us a step further towards bringing the hospital to the patient in the first crucial minutes after serious injury.”

Dr David Sutton, left, clinical governance lead for the region’s air ambulance, said: “This important step forward for HIOWAA could not have happened without the dedicated support of the University Hospital Southampton blood transfusion department, the Solent Advanced Motorcyclists and of course, members of the public who make regular blood donations.”