Arnold AFB blood drives set for more donors in 2018

Blood Assurance technician Lauren Phillips bandages Daniel Ogg, a research mechanical engineer with the High Speed Systems Division of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Arnold Air Force Base, following a recent blood donation. Blood drives across Arnold AFB are set to increase in 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brad Hicks)

Blood Assurance technician Lauren Phillips bandages Daniel Ogg, a research mechanical engineer with the High Speed Systems Division of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Arnold Air Force Base, following a recent blood donation. Blood drives across Arnold AFB are set to increase in 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brad Hicks)

The Blood Assurance bloodmobile awaits donors outside the Administration & Engineering Building. Blood drives across Arnold Air Force Base are set to increase in 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brad Hicks)

The Blood Assurance bloodmobile awaits donors outside the Administration & Engineering Building. Blood drives across Arnold Air Force Base are set to increase in 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brad Hicks)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- The bloodmobiles that have become a fairly common sight at Arnold Air Force Base over the years will be even more prevalent in 2018, providing members of Team AEDC with more opportunities to save lives.

The American Red Cross and the regionally-based Blood Assurance are each set to conduct three-day blood drives at Arnold throughout this year.

The 2018 AEDC blood drive schedule is:
• Feb. 14-16 – Blood Assurance
• April 11-13 – Red Cross
• June 13-15 – Blood Assurance
• Aug. 15-17 – Red Cross
• Oct. 17-19 – Blood Assurance
• Dec. 12-14 – Red Cross

This represents an increase in the number of drives held in the past. Prior to 2018, five total blood drives were held annually at Base. The Red Cross and Blood Assurance would alternate years on which organization held three drives and which held two.

For the past couple of years Tech Sgt. Joshua Suggs, with Arnold AFB Medical Operations, has coordinated the on-base blood drives. Suggs said the scheduling change not only offers personnel more chances to donate life-saving blood, it also offers stability in the blood drive schedule, as the drives will be scheduled roughly two months apart.

“The blood drives are a great way to give back to the community,” he said. “When someone donates a pint of blood, that one pint of blood can actually be used to save up to three people.

“Being able to set something up that has the possibility of saving hundreds of lives throughout the year is rewarding.”

Donors are allowed to give blood once every 56 days. Suggs said his goal was to add a drive at Arnold while adhering to this 56-day rule. He looked at the 2018 calendar and arranged a schedule that would allow all donors to participate in all the drives.

“The 56 days is important because for a lot of people this is the primary place they give blood because it has been going on for so long,” Suggs said. “We want to make sure during each drive that the individual is able to give because we don’t want to leave either the Red Cross or Blood Assurance out because of the 56-day timeframe.”

Both the Red Cross and Blood Assurance have for a number of years had memorandums of understanding in place that allow them to conduct blood drives at the Arnold AFB. Suggs said both organizations are eager to conduct drives here, as there is no shortage of willing donors.

“For all those years, Arnold has been really good at producing donors,” Suggs said. “We have quite a few donors who donate every time, and at the last one, we had a few new donors come in. So the Red Cross and Blood Assurance definitely want to come out here because it’s a very valuable resource to them.”

Vickie Shelton, donor recruiter for Blood Assurance, said the response at Arnold has been strong, adding personnel are aware of the importance of giving and that it takes a collective effort to ensure that an adequate supply of blood remains on the shelves.

“We’re very grateful for everyone who comes out and participates in these drives,” she said.

Suggs said the target is for both the Red Cross and Blood Assurance to collect 15 pints of blood per day from Base personnel, for a total of 45 pints collected per visit. He said with few exceptions, Team AEDC has managed to meet that mark.

Ahead of the blood drives, the Red Cross and Blood Assurance provide Suggs with signup information which he disseminates throughout Arnold. This allows potential donors to schedule an appointment and provide information to help expedite the donation process.

All of the 2018 Arnold AFB drives will be held on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, the bloodmobile will be set up at the Administration & Engineering Building, Building 100. On Thursdays, the drives will take place outside the Propulsion Wind Tunnel facility. On Fridays, the drives will occur outside the Main Auditorium building.

Suggs said if the 2018 schedule proves successful, a similar arrangement would remain in place for 2019 and beyond.