Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Think of it as the ‘Pony Express’ of blood for sparsely populated areas in Montana.

I spoke to Alyssa Johnson on Monday, the Trauma System Manager for the Montana DPHHS (Department of Public Health and Human Services) about a special award; the 2024 Peregrine Award for the Montana Interfacility Blood Network.

“The Montana Interfacility Blood Network really is a novel concept that was developed by the Montana State Trauma Care Committee originally back in 2019, when we started this project,” began Johnson. “Truly it is to address the challenges of providing life-saving blood transfusions to patients in rural areas and in our frontier counties and towns.”

Award Winning Network to Get Lifesaving Blood to Remote Areas

The network is designed to get lifesaving blood to areas far from major medical facilities.

“For example, if a patient presents at a rural facility with no or limited blood supply, and air medical is unable to bring additional blood out for say weather-related issues, the ground ambulance can now pick up and cross-match blood from an intermediary facility along the route to definitive care,” she said. “So it's truly a blood hand-off per se and that is what makes it so unique and so different.”

Montana is the First State in the U.S. to Offer this Program

Johnson confirmed that Montana is the first state in the nation to offer such a lifesaving program.

“We are the first state in the country that is doing this,” she said. “Through my network with the National Trauma Managers, I kind of polled everybody and asked if anyone had anything like this, and remember, this was back in 2019, and nobody had anything like this.”

Johnson agreed that it could be called the ‘Pony Express’ of blood delivery, but she had her own analogy for the innovative service.

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It's like the 'Pony Express' of Blood Sharing Delivery

“So it is kind of the Pony Express,” she said. “I keep explaining it as kind of a drive-thru blood pickup, you know kind of your McDonald's of blood, drive-thru pick it up, keep going. But yes, the Pony Express; give it to the patient and keep them moving forward. That is truly our goal.”

The 2024 Peregrine Award will be presented to Johnson and her staff during a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, May 15.

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Gallery Credit: Derek Wolf

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