In response to a first-time “National Blood Crisis” declared last week by the American Red Cross, Civil Air Patrol has stepped up its historic blood collection efforts.
Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, CAP’s national commander and CEO, is leading the effort — giving blood for the first time at a donor site near his home in Michigan on Sunday while encouraging other volunteers in the U.S. Air Force auxiliary to join him in saving lives.
The state of the nation’s blood supply is critically low, prompting the Red Cross declaration and the CAP commander’s act. Much of the nation is nearly at or below a one-day supply, forcing some surgeries to be postponed.
Civil Air Patrol, a congressionally chartered nonprofit, is a longtime partner of the American Red Cross, which awarded CAP with National Premier Partner status — the highest honor for an outside organization that supports the Red Cross’ blood mission.
“Join me in participating in Operation Pulse Lift and help save lives,” Phelka said in his organization-wide challenge to CAP members, emphasizing that every unit of blood collected through the Red Cross can save up to three lives.
“I encourage CAP members to make an appointment to donate blood,” he said. “Scheduling an appointment is easy at redcrossblood.org,”
Phelka’s motivation to donate was underscored by a family connection. “My mother donated blood for many years,” he said. “Later, I saw her receive a unit of blood during surgery and made the connection about the importance of giving blood.”
During its 21-month response to COVID-19, Civil Air Patrol’s Operation Pulse Lift has collected 9,190 units of blood from CAP members as well as other donors participating in blood drives held at CAP squadron facilities. CAP members have been rolling up their sleeves throughout the pandemic in response to the call for donors and as part of the organization’s longtime commitment to public service.
Recently, Operation Pulse Lift director Lt. Col. Bob Ditch set a new stretch goal of collecting 10,000 units by Valentine’s Day. With 13 CAP-hosted blood donation centers planned in four states in the next 30 days, the organization is on track to reach the goal.
“The Red Cross is immensely grateful to Maj. Gen. Phelka and the entire Civil Air Patrol,” said Jacqueline Tullio, the regional donor services executive for the American Red Cross Michigan Region. “Lifesaving care can start with one generous volunteer blood donor making a donation.”