Mutual Aid EMS in Greensburg installs blood coolers for patients on their way to hospitals

GREENSBURG, Pa. — Mutual Aid EMS in Greensburg has installed mobile blood coolers in two of their district chief’s vehicles in hopes to better serve patients who are in need of blood before they reach the hospital.

Mutual Aid EMS serves 33 communities across Westmoreland County. They can respond to nearly 100 calls every day.

“[That’s] between 2,500 to 3,000 emergency 911 calls per month,” said Ken Bacha, Director of Community Outreach with Mutual Aid EMS.

Some of those calls can find EMTs working with a patient in a life-threatening situation where they’re losing blood.

“Severe bleeding, accidents, trauma, things like that,” Bacha said.

They wanted to find a way to help those patients as best as they could.

Following the City of Pittsburgh’s lead, which purchased mobile blood coolers in 2023, Mutual Aid EMS worked to get specialized coolers for their district chiefs in May.

The coolers allow the chiefs, which respond to all of these more severe calls, to carry blood to those types of calls where a patient requires blood before they get to the hospital.

That can save a patient’s life – and according to officials, it already has.

“The lifesaving blood has definitely come into play in a lot of these cases, and so far it’s been used four times and with very positive outcomes,” Bacha told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek.

Each one of these coolers costs about $5,000. It’s not just a cooler or refrigerator you can buy at the store.

“Anything in health care is going to cost you a little bit more,” said Shawn Penzera, Director of Special Operations at Mutual Aid EMS. “But, it’s also medical grade. It’s going to have the capabilities when it’s in this vehicle on a hot day, on a cold day, to keep that temperature regulated rather than just a typical college dorm refrigerator.”

The cooler is connected to an app, which allows EMTs and managers to check the temperature and alert if it gets too hot or cold.

“You don’t want it to go below freezing level, and you don’t want it to get warm and go bad,” Penzera said.

Mutual Aid EMS was able to buy two coolers thanks to a $12,000 donation from the City of Greensburg.

Greensburg is only the second municipality, following Jeannette, to give funds to Mutual Aid EMS. It’s a nonprofit organization that isn’t taxpayer-funded, like the City of Pittsburgh and City of Philadelphia’s ambulance services.

Organizers hope more municipalities will help, as they look to buy a third.

“It’s going to be a very positive thing,” Bacha said. “We’re very thankful for every dollar that we get, and we hope it continues and expands.”

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