17:28 PM

Operation Pulse Lift Collects 2,000th Blood Unit in Pandemic Mission; Expansion Planned

Maj. Margot Myers
Public Affairs Officer
Arizona Wing

On Feb 4, David Fynn of Mesa, Arizona, donated the 2,000th unit of blood collected through the Arizona Wing’s COVID-19 blood donation mission that began in April.

That meant Operation Pulse Lift, which opened the wing's squadron facilities as emergency American Red Cross blood donation centers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was 10 days early reaching its goal of collecting 2,000 units by Valentine’s Day.

The milestone came at the Mesa-based Falcon Composite Squadron.

"Crossing the line at Falcon Field is most appropriate, as this is where the original Operation Pulse Lift mission began with 26 units collected on April 12, 2017,” said Lt. Col. Bob Ditch, the mission’s incident commander.

This was the 17th blood donation event at the squadron since the original mission began, with a total of 522 blood units collected. Before the pandemic, the Falcon squadron hosted blood drives two or three times a year through Operation Pulse Lift.

Three additional blood drives were held the first week in February, two hosted by the Show Low Composite Squadron and one by the 388th Composite Squadron in Glendale. The 388th has hosted 20 blood drives, accounting for 573 of the total units donated.

Donations reported by CAP members across the country brought the 10-month-long mission total to 2,021 by week’s end.

Acting as a Total Force partner and the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP helps First Air Force rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.

As the 2,000-unit milestone neared, John Desmarais, CAP’s national operations director, announced a plan to expand the mission nationwide.

In an email Feb. 2 to region and wing commanders and their senior staff members, Desmarais shared a request from the American Red Cross to “not only continue but to expand our support for blood donation operations.”

Desmarais said, “We think there is more that we can do though building off our success in Arizona. We believe that we could host more sites around the country and help promote the events as well to really have a strong campaign for our partners at the American Red Cross.”

He described the specifications for donation facilities, the need for a written request from a state or local government agency (such as a state emergency management agency), and the requirement to identify both wing and local points of contact.

The Red Cross provided a list (at left)of 26 cities or metropolitan areas where the need for CAP support is greatest.

In general, the American Red Cross needs 30+ people willing to donate in order to hold a successful blood drive,” Desmarais said. These areas have been identified as places where the American Red Cross has lots of donors that they believe they can bring to the drives themselves but need a suitable blood drive site.

“For any sites we identify located in places outside of this list, the American Red Cross would be relying on our teams to bring the 30+ donors since they don’t have the reach themselves,” he said.                              
In Arizona, Ditch has set a new goal for its Operation Pulse Lift mission. “We are not done. March 17 is the anniversary of the mission opening. and April 15 will be one year since the first Civil Air Patrol COVID-19 emergency blood drive,” he said.

“Do I hear a goal of 2,500 units by the anniversary of the first donation in mid-April? Why not?”