Operation Pulse Lift, part of Civil Air Patrol’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, surged past its year-end goal of 9,000 collected units of blood Dec. 31.

The stretch goal was set by Lt. Col. Robert Ditch, Operation Pulse Lift director, after CAP met an 8,500-unit goal before Thanksgiving.  

Members of the Arizona Wing’s Falcon Composite Squadron 305 hosted three blood donation events — their 51st, 52nd and 53rd — during the 21-month pandemic response and collected 89 units of blood the final week of 2021. In addition, individual members from 21 CAP wings and National Headquarters reported donating 153 units.

The effort brought the overall total to 9,023 units at year’s end.

Each unit of blood, according to the American Red Cross, has the potential to save three lives. That means CAP’s donations could potentially save over 27,000 lives.

“In basic terms, these are more lives than all CAP members west of the Mississippi River and more than all cadets in CAP,” Ditch said.

 “Many thanks to the now thousands of CAP members who have given their time, energy and some their life’s blood,” he said.

The announcement that Operation Pulse Lift had met its goal brought a heartfelt response from Jason A. Benedict, regional donor services executive for the Arizona and New Mexico Region of the Red Cross.

“Words cannot express the amount of gratitude we have for Dr. Ditch and all of our amazing Civil Air Patrol partners,” Benedict said. “This is absolutely above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined when we started down this road with CAP.”

“From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much,” he added.

Highlights of Operation Pulse Lift’s COVID-19 response include:

  • Blood Support Team operations were held at blood collection events at five military installations during 14 blood collection events supported by the Arizona, Colorado and Texas wings.
  • Blood Donor Center operations supported 121 events at 16 CAP sites hosted by the Alabama, Arizona, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia wings.
  • Individual member donations in all 52 wings amounted to 3,667 units of blood.
  • 376 air and ground sorties by the Arizona and Kansas wings transported  countless units of blood. That included multiple emergency transports by the Kansas Wing.

“As we move into 2022, we continue to lean on CAP and they continue to answer our cries for help,” Benedict said. “As you all know, we are experiencing one of the most severe blood shortages we have seen in a long time, and it’s partners like you that continue to help battle that shortage and keep our country healthy.”

In 2022, the next Operation Pulse Lift goal is set at 10,000 units of blood by Feb. 14.

CAP’s volunteerism has been personified by many throughout the mission’s 21 months, but this past week it was exemplified by Senior Member Ciely Daly of the Wyoming Wing’s Wind River Composite Squadron, who has donated seven units throughout the pandemic. Daly’s seventh donation came this past week while she was on Christmas vacation in Pennsylvania, where she heard about the tornado outbreak in the Midwest and sought out a donation center to give yet another unit.