EIGHTEEN patients with life or limb-threatening injuries have survived horrific medical traumas through a rapid blood transfusion project piloted by one doctor.

The Northern Echo: GNAAS Dr Rachel Hawes speaking about Blood on Board on its first anniversary. Picture: ALAN MOUNTAIN

GNAAS Dr Rachel Hawes speaking about Blood on Board on its first anniversary. Picture: ALAN MOUNTAIN

Lieutenant Colonel Dr Rachel Hawes and her team crewing Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) helicopters developed her Blood on Board initiative inspired by a 16-year Army Reserve career.

Pre-hospital emergency care and consultant anaesthetist, Dr Hawes, has overseen the process of delivering roadside blood transfusions within one hour of it being requested since the project’s launch in 2015.

After directly saving 18 lives with the Blood on Board scheme, Dr Hawes has been praised at Reservist of the Day at a ceremony hosted by Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Susan Winfield.

Dr Hawes also received the Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate for Meritorious Service.

The award recognises Army Reserves who have made a “significant impact in the community” and was presented to the GNAAS doctor at HMS Calliope, in Gateshead.

Dr Hawes said: “It was a massive honour but I must stress that the project has been a team effort.

“Without everyone involved, it would not have been possible.”

The Blood on Board initiative took off GNAAS with support from the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Blood Bikes, Blood Bikes Cumbria Community and Henry Surtees Foundation.

Each transfusion is sourced from the NHS Foundation Trust before bikers and GNAAS crews work together to meet time-critical deadlines in order to save lives.

Grahame Pickering, chief executive of GNAAS, said: “Dr Hawes’ work epitomises our mission – to deliver world class care to our patients – and we are all extremely proud of her here at GNAAS.”

In her Army role, Dr Hawes was deployed on Operation Herrick 13 as an anaesthetist in the internationally-renowned Role 2 hospital in Afghanistan in 2011.

Dr Hawes analysed treatment being given to servicemen and women who survived the most serious traumatic injuries with early blood transfusions delivered via CH-47 Chinook helicopters that carried blood on board.

A transcript of Dr Hawes’ achievements announced at the HMS Calliope stated: “With no such pre-existing civilian capability in the North-East of England, Hawes had to translate a military concept into one that would succeed and be sustainable in an increasingly constrained National Health Service.”

The transcript added: “The scale and complexity of this task would have overawed a lesser individual but was one that Hawes relished and excelled in.

“She has immersed herself into every part of the process to ensure that this service was a success and ensuring the patients receive the pinnacle of healthcare.

“Lt Col Hawes has had a profound, clearly demonstrable and long lasting effect on the provision of healthcare in the North, which will undoubtedly continue to save lives.”