During a blood donation center event Sept. 10 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, a U.S. Air Force basic trainee donated the 15,000th unit of blood collected in Civil Air Patrol’s three-year Operation Pulse Lift mission.
Beginning in April 2017 as a small community service activity, Operation Pulse Lift was mobilized in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced closure of blood donation centers at schools, churches, businesses, and other community locations. Civil Air Patrol stepped up, offering its squadron buildings as emergency blood donation centers.
This most recent blood drive yielded 118 units, which helped propel Operation Pulse Lift beyond its 15,000-unit goal more than 20 days ahead of schedule.
Two days earlier, the Arizona Wing’s Falcon Composite Squadron hosted its 75th blood donation center, collecting 37 units. Falcon is the top-performing squadron in CAP in both number of blood drives and units collected – 2,102.
During the Falcon squadron blood dive, Cadet Master Sgt. Jayden Long donated his fourth unit of blood, a first among CAP cadets. He also served all day on staff for the blood donor center event.
“I became a blood donor to do what I can to help others in need,” Long said, adding that he has worked at 11 blood donation events so far.
“The need for lifesaving blood remains critical nationwide,” said Lt. Col. Robert Ditch, CAP incident commander for the emergency blood donation mission. “That is why Operation Pulse Lift will continue to support blood donation centers. It’s part of our mission to serve our communities and save lives.”
Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to non-military threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.
“CAP quite literally is the lifeblood of our nation at times,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Dickens, vice commander, Air Forces Northern. “This critical operation performed by auxiliary volunteers to help everyday people exemplifies the spirit of America.”
In addition to operating blood donation centers at CAP facilities, Operation Pulse Lift has supported blood collection activities through the Armed Services Blood Program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Fort Carson and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, and Dyess Air Force Base and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.
Ditch said the mission will continue. “I have established a new goal of 16,667 units of blood donated by the end of 2022, potentially saving 50,000 lives, more lives saved than all combined missions in CAP’s 80-year history,” he said.