Cross training to process blood shipments saves lives
There are many critical steps involved in collecting blood products and getting them to patients in need, and each part of the process requires that dedicated professionals be trained and ready at a moment’s notice. When an emergency arises, staff members must be able to respond quickly to the need.
The Kendrick Memorial Blood Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., like most of the Armed Services Blood Program blood donor centers, takes great care and pride in ensuring that team members be trained to work in multiple areas in support of collecting blood for our service members and their families. Staff members are proficient in doing everything from registering donors’ demographic information in the computer system, to checking donors’ vital signs, to performing the phlebotomy procedure.
After a unit of blood is donated, it must be tested, processed into components, and properly labeled and shipped. Several layers of review are required to ensure that the donation information, quality control measures and blood testing results are accurately recorded. Once everything is verified to be safe and correct — a process commonly called “lot release” — the staff can then start the unit on its way to its next destination.
Staff members at the Kendrick Memorial Blood Center are taking more steps than ever towards quality care for those who need blood products fast by increasing cross training in packing and shipping blood. Their normal operations include sending blood downrange several times weekly, and to military medical facilities — most notably, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, which is just a few minutes away. The DDEAMC blood bank maintains a supply on hand at all times, but occasionally a patient who is actively bleeding can exhaust that supply.
Rozita Hunter, a medical laboratory technician who regularly acts as a member of the collection team as well as working in the lot release and shipping section, trained two Soldiers and helped them become more familiar with the process that then they may be on-call for emergencies.
“Often we need to ship blood products over to the hospital quickly, sometimes in the middle of the night or on a weekend,” Hunter said. “When the call comes, Kendrick personnel need to get to the donor center as soon as possible to get the required products from the refrigerators, prepare them properly for shipment, and update the computer tracking system to maintain accountability for every unit.
“Having someone on-call who lives on post is key because in an emergency they could be here in five minutes instead of thirty,” said Hunter. “We need to have every available option in an emergency situation. Taking away factors like distance, traffic, and possible post gate closures could make a big difference if time is of the essence.”
In addition to providing immediate support for ill or injured patients, the Kendrick Memorial Blood Center must be prepared to respond to an event like a disaster, disease outbreak or mass casualty.
“The more staff members [who] are proficient in every area of our operations, the better prepared we will be in the event of any kind of emergency,” said Sgt. Miguel Cruz, noncommissioned officer in charge of component processing.
Cruz, who has been mobilized in support of the Armed Services Blood Program since 2010 at both Fort Gordon and at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, has seen plenty of emergency situations arise.
“ Our mission never stops,” Cruz said. “That’s why we need to be available at a moment’s notice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
How to help:
Want to help keep blood supplies available for those in need? You can help ensure preparedness by giving blood, plasma, or platelets at your local ASBP center!
To find out more about the Armed Services Blood Program or to schedule an appointment, please visit us online: www.militaryblood.dod. mil. To interact directly with some of our staff, see more photos or to get the latest news, visit us here: www.facebook.com/militaryblood, www.flickr.com/militaryblood and www.twitter.com/militaryblood.