Could something like a spoon-full of sugar make the difference for a car accident victim who’s losing loads of blood and going into shock? That theory is being tested in the Iowa City area in a first-of-its-kind study conducted by the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

For years, paramedics like Mike Hartley tried to replace lost blood with saline solution. “We really need to find something better that we can do for trauma victims before they arrive at the hospital,” Hartley says. Hartley’s one of the Iowa City-area paramedics who’s testing an I-V drip that has a higher concentration of salt, and a little sugar.

Doctor Steve Hata is director of the I-C-U at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “To resuscitate these patients we need to increase their blood volume very quickly,” Hata says.

Adults have between eight and 10 pints of blood in their body. Losing one pint is like donating blood. But lose two or more in a car accident, and you go into shock. Currently for paramedics to replace two units of blood, they need three packets of the saline solution.

With this new product it may be only one packet to get your blood flowing again according to Dr. Richard Kerber who is leading the study. “What’s driving this is the knowledge that our present treatments for trauma are not very good,” Dr. Kerber says. If the higher concentrations of salt water, with a little sugar thrown in, prove effective, thousands of lives could be saved every year.