JEMISON, Ala. (WIAT) — A Chilton County Fire Department is making state history by providing lifesaving care to local patients.

Jemison Fire and Rescue is the first and only fire department in Alabama to carry blood on its ambulances. Fire lieutenant Dallas Smith says the ability to carry blood on the department’s ambulances is another immediate way to save lives.

“We’re 45 minutes away from a level one trauma center,” Smith said.  “This allows us to take that patient straight to the trauma center and get them the care that they need as quickly as possible, and we don’t have to stop at another facility to get blood if someone is hemorrhaging out.” 

Smith says they once used I-V products to administer to patients to maintain blood pressure, but those products lacked oxygen.

“The more time the vital organs go without oxygen they tend to die off,” he said.

Having blood on board an ambulance prevents that from happening.

The blood is kept in a cooler to stay cool in the ambulance and first responders are also able to warm the blood on board to administer to a patient.

Residents in Jemison say this is a game-changer for the city.

“It’s a great thing to know that we can not only help our own community but the surrounding counties that we can reach out and help others,” Cheryl English said.

“We’re right in the center of Alabama so I think that is a big plus because we have state meetings and all types of things because we’re centrally located,” Tammie McGriff said.

State EMS protocols changed last year, allowing fire department ambulances to carry blood.