Blood Donor Blood Donor
Alia from ARHT's story
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If anyone understands the need for blood, it’s first responders – the incredibly talented and dedicated group of individuals first on the scene in an emergency. The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) team is such a group and knowing of the importance of blood, have signed up for their very own Team Red to help even more people than they already do.

New Zealand Blood Service’s (NZBS) Team Red programme gives people the opportunity to get together with their friends and workmates to donate blood to those in need. ARHT’s day job consists of saving lives, so they made no hesitation when it came time to sign up to donate blood.

The Auckland-based Westpac Rescue Helicopter is staffed full-time by a highly experienced flight crew consisting of pilots, intensive care paramedics and crewmen, and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is also the only rescue helicopter service in New Zealand to carry Pre-Hospital and Retrieval Medicine (PHRM) doctors on board every single day of the year. This means the critical care medical team can perform more life-saving techniques usually reserved for the emergency room, such as a blood transfusion, from the moment they touch down. ARHT, works closely with NZBS to ensure a supply of blood is readily available to those in need, because as they very well know, accidents do happen and for those Aucklanders in need, there’s that red helicopter in the sky carrying lifesaving heroes and lifesaving blood.

Canadian emergency medicine registrar, Dr Alia Dharamsi came to New Zealand to temporarily join ARHT as a HEMS Fellow. ARHT is the only rescue helicopter service in New Zealand accredited by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine to train doctors in Prehospital and Retrieval Medicine. It attracts fellows, such as Alia, from around the world. She joined the dedicated team of doctors that fly in the rescue helicopter during the daytime. Although she only spent six months in New Zealand, she became an avid supporter of ARHT’s Team Red during her stay.

“My main interest has always been pre-hospital care and joining ARHT gave me the opportunity to really immerse myself in that area”, says Alia. “With this job opportunity came my joining the awesome cause that is Team Red.
“Donating blood is one of the things that you do for the greater good, hoping you’ll never need it but knowing someone needs it every day – you’re helping someone out that could possibly be living the worst day of their lives! And in this profession, we know what that can be like.”

A day in the life of an ARHT crewmember starts at 7am when the doctor, paramedic, pilot and crewman (or co-pilot) spend the morning checking their packs, equipment and gear for the day ahead of them. The team then reviews the weather forecast to better understand what capabilities they do or do not have that day as some areas might be harder to navigate through than others. Once the morning routine is thoroughly run through, the team then standby for cases to come in.

“Some days are busier than others, we never know how busy we’ll be”, says Alia. “While there is always an element of surprise to our profession, one thing we know for certain: having blood on board our helicopter betters a patient’s chance of survival and recovery from an accident we may encounter on the day.”

Although Alia has now completed her six months with ARHT, she’s thankful for the experience and her time working alongside some of the most thoughtful and hardworking people and she already looks forward to coming back. In the meantime, ARHT carries on saving lives, through their dedication to patients and Team Red.
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