By Capt. Greta S. Fennell, 644th Regional Support Group, Mobilization Division-DPTMS:
(El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3, 2017)
A comfortable breeze and some 1990s era rock created a relaxing setting for a blood and school supply drive at the Fort Bliss Soldier Resilience and Readiness Center, Bldg. 60, here July 26. More than 20 medical personnel were ready with chairs, needles, gauze and smiles.
Planning began two weeks ago when 1st Lt. Iesha Taylor, officer in charge of medical operations at the SRRC and primary coordinator for the event, first spoke with Deylon Douglass, blood donor recruiter for the Armed Services Blood Program.
“My main objective here was to make sure everything was set up accordingly, participants knew where to register and get prescreened to give blood, felt comfortable, and then continued through the process correctly,” Taylor said.
Also, next to the blood-drive registration table were two large boxes for the school supply drive.
“I thought school was starting shortly so school supplies would be helpful,” Taylor said. All supplies collected will go to the Child Crisis Center of El Paso.
The ASBP organizes as many as four blood drives per week on Fort Bliss and surrounding federal installations. One of its mottos is, “One Donation = Two Lives.” Every two seconds someone needs blood and an average donation is roughly one pint, which can potentially help more than one patient, according to the American Red Cross.
“The need is very high,” Douglass said. “If we don’t fulfill our quota, we are failing service members and civilians downrange.” After an event, Douglass schedules one at the same location 56 days later, which is the eligibility timeframe to donate.
Once personnel collect the blood, the organization quickly processes it for any war-fighter, military or civilian who is conducting contingency operations, Douglass said.
“We collect one day, process the next, and then it’s on a plane to be in Iraq and Afghanistan within a week,” he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Edward Hystad, noncommissioned officer in charge of the SRRC and assigned to the 644th Regional Support Group, participated in the blood drive to help other service members.
“We all need to pitch in and take care of each other because we are all family – one Army,” Hystad said. “As a senior noncommissioned officer and as a person, I feel it is invaluable to contribute to such a great cause.”
Within five hours, 45 participants provided blood and donated 120 school items.
“Basically everyone who contributes is helping a complete stranger, someone they don’t know and have never met,” Douglass said. “They have the potential to save a life. I’m very appreciative and I look forward to coming back for another great drive.”
“We owe safe blood and blood products to our warfighters. Safe, potent blood and blood products must be manufactured for the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for the security of our nation,” Douglass said.