Dec. 13 marked the 1,000th day of Operation Pulse Lift, Civil Air Patrol’s humanitarian blood-donation mission launched to assist the American Red Cross in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This mission is the largest and longest lifesaving effort in CAP’s 81-year history,” said Operation Pulse Lift’s national incident commander, Lt. Col. Bob Ditch.
So far, 17, 416 units of blood have been collected, potentially saving about 52,000 lives.
Since then-Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ March 17, 2020, announcement of the need for blood and the pandemic-related closure of nearly 7,000 donation center, “Civil Air Patrol has been engaged in the coordination, planning, and execution of the longest series of blood donation center operations in the nation by a single organization,” Ditch said.
“In fact, CAP was issued a 1st Air Force mission number on March 20, 2020, and was ready to begin supporting blood collections,” he said.
These efforts haven’t gone unrecognized, as American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern called CAP “an incredible partner in responding not only to the urgent need for critical blood products” but also the need for facilities to host blood drives, bestowing Red Cross “Premier Partner” status on the organization.
Operation Pulse Lift, which began in Arizona, expanded to include 35 locations in 12 states –Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia, with North Carolina expected to join them soon. CAP units in these states have hosted 255 blood donor center events since March 2020 as part of the mission.
Transporting blood with CAP vehicles and aircraft is also part of the mission to shore up the nation’s critically low blood supply. CAP aircrews and drivers have flown or driven over 350 transport trips to remote hospital locations.
The mission has also supported blood collection activities at six U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force installations in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas through the Armed Services Blood Program. This included blood collections that went toward supporting hospitals in Washington, D.C., and Germany that treated casualties from the Aug. 26, 2021, suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan,
The Red Cross also used the mission to support hospitals in California and Oregon in response to wildfires; in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas after hurricanes; and the Southwest during and after a major winter storm.
Operation Pulse Lift launched 72-hour emergency efforts that resulted in donations of 222 units of blood in response to the December 2021 Quad-State Tornado outbreak and 404 units of after Hurricane Ian in late September and early October this year.
Across the country, CAP members and their families who don’t live near a CAP-sponsored blood drive have reported their local blood donations for inclusion in the mission’s total number of units collected. So far, more than 6,500 individual member donations have combined with more than 10,800 units collected at CAP-supported blood donor centers.
Operation Pulse Lift will continue with seven blood donation centers scheduled through this month and 47 so far in 2023.
“The current need for blood donations continues to be critical, as the nation still has only a one-day supply of blood on its shelves,” Ditch said.
Maj. Margot Myers
Public Information Officer
Operation Pulse Lift