Uncontrolled hemorrhage and exsanguination are the leading cause of preventable death, and resuscitative therapy is a critical component for survival. In various combinations, fresh whole blood, blood components, colloids, and crystalloids have all been staples of trauma care. The use of fresh whole blood is a well-established military practice that has saved the lives of thousands of American and coalition military personnel. Civilian use of fresh whole blood is far less established owing to the wide availability of individual blood components. However, this highly tailored blood supply is vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters. In the event of such disruption, such as a major hurricane, it may be necessary for civilian hospitals to rapidly enact a fresh whole blood program. Therefore, the aim of this article is to review the current use of blood therapy for trauma resuscitation, the US military’s approach to fresh whole blood, and how maintaining a civilian capacity for fresh whole blood collection in the event of future man-made and natural disasters is key to promoting survival from trauma.

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