Arizona Wing supported its 24th and 25th Operation Pulse Lift blood donation center events in 149 days on September 11, surpassing the goal of collecting 750 units by November 1 more than seven weeks early. The two events came at the end of a week that included four blood donation drives at three locations: the 388th Composite Squadron in Glendale hosted two plus one each at Cochise and Falcon Composite Squadrons.
Incident Commander Lt. Col. Bob Ditch described the concurrent drives on 9/11 like a football game, seeing which squadron would have the 750th donor.
“The day began fast and furious (734 blood units at the start), with the 388th Squadron’s Blood Donor Center taking the field by 0700, and by 0930 they had supported the collection of 11 units of blood. But the Cochise Squadron, while starting two hours later, was not distracted and leapt to eight units in less than an hour. By 0935, Cochise Squadron had five units and the 388th had 10 with only one unit to go for the goal. At 0943, the goal line had been crossed, and by 1000 (three hours into the day), the Arizona Wing was at 757 units of blood and still welcoming more donors.
“By noon, the tally was at 774 units of blood. At that point the Glendale donation center was done (24 units collected) for the day, but the Cochise Squadron still had three hours to go on the playing field. When the dust had all settled, and the Red Cross was all packed up, the total collected units stood at 792 (24 for Glendale and 34 for Cochise).”
That brought the weekly total to 107 units collected across four blood drives at three squadrons.
The strong push during the week brought kudos from Courtney Slanaker, executive director of Red Cross operations in Tucson. “Congratulations and much admiration to the entire wing for the incredible work to collect 750 units,” she wrote in an email to Ditch. “The regular blood drives are imperative to ensuring a stable blood supply especially during a pandemic. Thank you for the commitment to save lives!”
What’s next? The new goal for the Arizona Wing is 1,000 units of blood by Thanksgiving. “It will be a great way to celebrate a day of giving,” Ditch said. “Give a little of you; it goes a long way to save a lot of others.”