Southwest Asia --
The 332d Expeditionary Medical Group started the first-ever Walking Blood Bank for the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing
Unlike traditional blood banks, this Walking Blood Bank is unique.
Maintaining and executing a blood contingency plan is an expectation from the Air Force Surgeon General. The 332 EMDG’s plan outlines how to provide blood, not to store it, for emergent needs prior to a patient/s being transported for extended medical care.
“This could provide life-saving intervention to an injured wingman,” said Capt. Clauson, 332 EMDG chief of medical staff. “The time could be the difference of life and death.”
Along with Clauson, Staff Sgt. Zaro, 332 EMDG Emergency Services NCOIC, initiated the Walking Blood Bank plan. She said volunteer blood donors will be pre-screened, and those who meet pre-screened requirements will be put on a list in the event their blood is needed.
“I got with Capt. Clauson and started the process to order the equipment.” said Zaro. “Once it was approved by 332 EMDG leadership, we ordered the equipment.”
According to Zaro, medical technicians draw blood routinely at their home stations and are very proficient.
“After the equipment got here, we pre-screened donors with four blood tests,” said Zaro. “After the results clear the donors, their names were put into a database.”
In the event of a life-saving emergency, donors will be notified to go to the nearest collection point.
“Once they get to the collection point, donors are retested,” said Clauson. “When the results come back, we pull the blood, double verify the blood is a correct match and then give it to the patient.”
Due to constant training, Clauson says the team is prepared to execute the Walking Blood Bank immediately. Also, there will be intermittent training scenarios to ensure the process is effective.
“During our Mass Casualty exercises, we did a drill where a simulated Walking Blood Bank was activated,” said Clauson. “Though less of a technical skill, this is more of a new process for the team.”
Zaro also said the process of screening and drawing blood will be similar to a Red Cross blood bank, with the exception of storing it. She also stated that with this new process, overall readiness will increase because Airmen donors will be identified and put into the database when they arrive to the 332 AEW.
“The Walking Blood Bank closes gaps that could happen in a contingency for blood supply at role one facilities and conditions of prolonged field care,” said Col. Garrison, 332 EMDG commander. “In order to provide the best opportunity of survival for our Airmen, the whole blood program is essential for our successful treatment of combat casualties."