Having blood on hand is very important during training with live ammunition, especially when held in remote locations where hospitals are out of immediate reach.The U.S. Pacific Command Armed Services Blood Bank Center is hosting blood drives across Okinawa the first three weeks of April for this year's Exercise Balikatan in the Philippines."This blood is being collected mostly as a contingency plan," said Navy Lt. Jeffrey Hebert, director of the USPACOM ABBC. "Any exercises where they're doing something dangerous, have live fire or any weapons discharging, they want to have blood on hand to be able to save lives or stop injuries."During Exercise Balikatan, Philippine and U.S. service members perform tactical-level combat training and humanitarian assistance projects throughout the Philippines. Military medical personnel will offer free medical, dental and veterinary care."One successful donation has the potential to save three lives," said Hebert.Donated blood is delivered as quickly as possible to the locations of the exercises because it is only good for 42 days after it is collected, according to Hebert."For Balikatan, we will be shipping to six different locations, with some units being hand-carried and pre-positioned on a ship," said Hebert. "This week's collection will be shipped out in approximately two weeks, after we have had time to complete Transfusion Transmitted Disease testing and guarantee a safe product."The USPACOM ASBBC is also supporting other upcoming exercises, such as Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, Pacific Pathways, Talisman Strike, and Tiger Balm 2017."The USPACOM ASBBC is the only source of blood for all military service members stationed on Okinawa, mainland Japan, and in support of special missions and exercises in the region. We support the blood requirements of USNH Okinawa, USNH Yokosuka, Yokota Air Base, Misawa Air Base, and Branch Health Clinic Diego Garcia," said Hebert.
There are many things that can prevent someone from being able to donate. Some of those things aren't always thought of by potential donors, which is why a short screening process is done before they are allowed to donate.Certain locations that service members are stationed or deployed to could differ them from being an eligible donor. Those locations include Afghanistan, North Korea and Europe. Afghanistan and North Korea can differ someone for two years. Europe can differ someone indefinitely depending on where they travelled and how long they were there, according to Hebert.The USPACOM ASBBC is accepting all blood types, but specifically for Exercise Balikatan they are looking for O negative and O positive.Potential donors can visit the website, http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/, or call the ASBBC aboard Camp Foster at the DSN 646-9939, to check their eligibility.