APRIL 11, 2017, PITI, Guam (NNS) – One by one the volunteers finished their questionnaires and took a seat, bracing in anticipation of the small pinch they would endure in exchange for the opportunity to grant the gift of life to a fellow service member.
Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 15 partnered with the Armed Forces Blood Program (ASBP) to host a mobile blood drive March 30 at the COMSUBRON 15 headquarters building on Polaris Point. Service members, Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, contractors and family members from ships and submarines stationed on Guam came out in support of the cause.
“I coordinated a mobile blood drive here at squadron because of our affiliation with the four forward-deployed submarines and two submarine tenders on this island,” said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Michael Atkinson, COMSUBRON 15’s Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC). “We are the best location on the waterfront for those who want to donate.”
In addition to weekly mobile blood drives, U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Guam also conducts apheresis (ABC) donations on site, which is the process of giving only the components of blood needed for patients that day. Instead of donating a pint of blood as a whole, the ABC donor’s blood is run through a machine that separates the components of their blood; the parts not needed for patients are immediately returned to the donor during the donation.
“I oversee the program for Naval Hospital Guam,” said Lt. Matthew Coon, USNH Guam Blood Bank department head. “Our facility, in addition to the ones in Hawaii, Japan and Korea, provides blood for special operations missions, active duty service member care and the care of their loved ones in this area of operation.”
The AFBP has served as the sole provider of blood for the U.S. Armed Forces since 1962. They collect, process, store and distribute blood and blood products such as packed red blood cells, platelets and frozen plasma to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide.
“I believe that the process of donating blood is significantly underestimated and undervalued,” said Lt. Peter Beale, COMSUBRON 15 Undersea Medical Officer. “People don’t realize the real impact they can have on saving someone’s life.”
Although the majority of patients who receive blood from the program are military and dependents, the ASBP also assists in times of humanitarian aid and natural disaster response such as the relief efforts during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. ASBP worked with USNS Comfort to provide aid and frozen red blood cell units to those in need. Thanks to the donations provided by service members, DoD civilians and dependents, Comfort was able to help save the lives of those who had lost everything else.
The mobile blood drive serves as a vital lifeline to the ASBP, and with the help of commands like COMSUBRON 15, more than 150,000 units of blood have been transfused on the battlefield in the last 12 years.
“I think it’s so vital for Sailors to take a small block of their day to donate blood, if they can,” said Atkinson. “Their small sacrifice goes directly to their fellow service members in need. In the unfortunate instance when a situation arises either locally or down range at a battalion aide hospital, we have an opportunity to help, to give, to save a life.”
Guam serves as one of four blood bank facilities that serve the Micronesian area. Squadron 15 hosts ASBP blood drive every six months, in hopes of encouraging maximum participation to help fellow service members. In addition to those that regularly give, those who have rare blood types and new check-ins are encouraged to participate. In total there are more than 20 ASBP donation centers between Army, Navy and Air Force facilities worldwide.
To donate blood at the next drive near you, visit the ASBP site at https://www.militarydonor.com/ or contact you nearest military medical treatment facility.
COMSUBRON 15 is located at Polaris Point, Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor, Guam, and consists of four Los Angeles-class attack submarines. The squadron staff is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support to these commands. Also based out of Naval Base Guam are submarine tenders USS Frank Cable (AS 40) and USS Emory S. Land (AS 39). The submarines and tenders are maintained as part of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed submarine force and are readily capable of meeting global operational requirements.
From Commander Submarine Squadron 15 Public Affairs