AN elite emergency team will put an extra unit in place during the Commonwealth Games to ensure medics can be on the scene quickly during any major incidents.

The Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS), known as Scotland's flying doctors, will also now carry blood to the scene of serious traumas, ensuring patients receive vital transfusions as quickly as possible.

The teams will carry O negative blood - the only blood group which can be administered to anyone - from June 23, in a move which doctors say will save lives.

The announcement came as the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) said it was "never more important" than for people to give blood ahead of the Games.

Dr Neil Hughes, a consultant in pre-hospital medicine, said EMRS has already made preparations for the influx of visitors in July.

He said: "We normally have two duty teams but we have added a third for the duration of the Commonwealth Games.

"That third team will be available to attend any incidents and we'll have the blood available at that time too.

"It means we will be on the scene quickly and be able to administer blood to anyone who needs it."

The EMRC attends major incidents in Scotland to provide emergency care for those who are critically injured.

It also manages the transport of seriously injured patients from remote and rural locations to hospitals and medical centres.

Mr Hughes added: "As O negative is the only blood group that can safely be given to anyone in an emergency, a transfusion can buy precious time for critically ill patients."

Moira Carter, associate director of donor services at SNBTS, warned that donations are likely to fall by 20% over the summer.

She said: "When people are busy and there's a lot going on, there is obviously the potential for more accidents.

"But for us, our biggest issue is that people in Scotland are going to be joining in the fun and will be busy and it's so easy for giving blood to fall off your list of things to do.

"We are telling existing donors that when we invite you to come along this summer, it's never been more important that you answer that call.

"If you have never given blood before, please start, and if you haven't given in a while, then please come back to us."

Ms Carter added that the use of O negative blood by the EMRS shows just how much of a difference donating can make.

"The estimate is that the blood being available on the scene will make a massive difference to around 25 people in the first year," she said.

"Those donors who have given that blood should be really proud."

The director also urged people to donate ahead of World Blood Donor Day on Saturday.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: "Whether you have given blood before, or have never managed to get round to donating, I'd urge you to make an extra effort this World Blood Donor Day and make that potentially life-saving contribution.

"The importance of making a regular commitment to donating blood is one that the EMRS team are all too aware of and I have no doubt that they will have seen first-hand how giving blood can really help people in need."

l The Queen's Baton relay spent yesterday in Hull, where it toured the city's schools and visited the Deep Aquarium.