VTANG Bleeds for the Community
By Airman 1st Class Dana Alyce-Schwarz
158th Fighter Wing
Members of the Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) volunteered their time this past drill weekend, along with their blood at the American Red Cross blood drive on base.
"We've been planning this since last December," said David Carmichael, the Red Cross program coordinator. "We frequently have military members donate at our local clinics, but we want to be able to provide as many people as possible the chance to contribute. This is a critical time of year, so having such a large drive is a great help to us."
The VTANG has hosted blood drives in the past, going as far back as 1974, with the most recent drive having taken place in 2009. When asked about the gap in time between blood drives Carmichael explained that because overseas deployments many Airmen were temporarily barred from donating. Overseas duty, vaccinations, or even a recent cold or flu are just some of the reasons why a person may be temporarily unable to donate.
"I was in Germany during the 'Mad Cow' scare in the 80s so I'm not able to donate," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael French, the Communications Flight Quality Assurance Supervisor. "But I enjoyed volunteering and talking with all the Airmen who did give blood. It's an event that everyone is able to contribute to, donating or volunteering." For this drive the goal was to collect 200 units of blood. Working with the VTANG Junior Enlisted Council, a group of volunteer Airmen who help coordinate base events, the Red Cross was able to surpass the 200 unit goal. A total of 226 productive units were collected, over 70 of them coming from first time donors, making this the third largest blood drive of the year.
Carmichael explained that designating a donation as a 'productive unit' refers to the content of that donation. Each productive unit of blood is potentially able to save three people. When whole blood is collected, it is then sent to a lab to be separated into its component parts: red cells, platelets and plasma. This allows each part of the donation to be used as needed and therefore provide the maximum benefit.
"I remember when we held annual drives," French said. "I think it was great having one again and if the base tempo is such that we can keep having regular drives it will be one more way we're able to give back to our community