Life-saving blood transfusions can now be given at the scene of a major accident or trauma following the introduction of a new pre-hospital blood transfusion service in Cork and Wicklow.

'CODE SCARLETT' is a result of collaboration between University College Cork and St Vincent's Hospitals, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and the hospitals' transfusion laboratories.

The service will be overseen by doctors attached to the Rapid Response Services in Counties Cork and Wicklow.

It will see supplies of O-negative blood brought by the critical care doctors to incidents deemed critical.

General Practitioner Dr Huge Doran, who operates the voluntary service in east Cork, says having access to blood while dealing with critically injured people will save lives.

He and his colleague in west Cork, Dr Jason Van Der Veldt, have attended more than 300 call-outs in the past year.

Dr Doran says critical care doctors, who work voluntarily to support the National Ambulance Service, will be able to deliver life-saving blood transfusions to patients without having to wait until their arrival at the Emergency Department.

The programme was the brain child of consultant in Emergency Medicine at Cork University Hospital Dr Eoin Fogarty who saw firsthand the benefits of having access to blood while working with the Air Accident Emergency Service in Australia.

Dr Fogarty says O-negative blood will only be dispatched in cases deemed critical given how important blood stocks are to hospitals.

He also appealed to the general public to consider donating blood.