The 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger O Low Titer -- ROLO -- Whole Blood Program was recognized by the Army Materiel Command as the individual military winner of the annual Army's Greatest Innovation Award at the Association of the United States Army Global Warfare Symposium in Huntsville, Ala. March 14.

The program was developed in concert with international multidiscipline civilian and military providers of the Trauma Hemostasis and Oxygenation Research network to bring emergency blood transfusion from the hospital environment to the battlefield.

In the Army, the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is the only center that does this process, according to Victor Shermer at the JBLM center.

"(Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest) already had whole blood included on our FDA Licensed product menu allowing us to collect, manufacture, and ship this product immediately when the request was received," Shermer said. "Because our primary testing facility is performing the testing, we get results in 12 to 18 hours, allowing us to process the product and ship it out the day after collection."

Thanks in large part to Lt. Col. Andre Cap, chief of Blood Research at the Army Institute of Surgical Research and Lt. Col. Jason Corley, deputy director of the Army Blood Program, the ROLO Whole Blood Program went from concept to implementation at the unit-level in only 18 months.

The program identifies all blood group O members of the unit and then tests them to determine possible donors to be used at the point of injury. Previous research and publications demonstrate that whole blood with low anti-A and anti-B IgM titers presents a low/negligible risk of a catastrophic acute hemolytic transfusion reaction when given to individuals that are not of the same blood group.

"Low Titer O Whole Blood is important because it can be used as a universal blood product for any blood type," Shermer said. "Typically, when we collect whole blood, we have to spin the unit down to separate the red blood cells from the plasma. This is because each blood type has different antigens on the red blood cells and antibodies in the plasma. A type O person, for instance, has no antigens on their red cells, which makes it possible to give their red blood cells to any patient."

Following the example of blood programs from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, the 75th Ranger Regiment Medical Detachment adopted group O low titer as IgM titers less than 1:256. The use of group O low titer donors eliminates testing steps and the possibility of incorrectly matching group-specific donors and recipients in the emergency blood transfusion process.

"Recognition at the Army-level of the ROLO Whole Blood Program would not be possible without the dedicated Army Medical Department team committed to providing Soldiers better trauma casualty care on the battlefield," said Lt. Col. Ethan Miles, 75th Ranger Regiment surgeon. "The Rangers were chartered by Gen. Creighton Abrams to be 'elite, light, and the most proficient infantry in the world.' Our team was committed to finding a battlefield blood transfusion option that benefits all of the nation's warfighters."

The Army's Greatest Innovation Award Program revives the Army's Greatest Invention and Soldier's Greatest Invention award programs that became nonoperational after 2012. Army Materiel Command announced reestablishment of the Army's Greatest Innovation Award Program in 2016 with an expanded focus in technologies, processes, and programs that ensure our Soldiers are the best manned, trained and equipped.

There are three award categories; Individual-Military, Individual-Civilian, and Group. The program operates on a fiscal year basis with nominations accepted beginning the prior fiscal year starting in October. For more information on the awards, visit amc.army.mil/amc/agiap.html.

The blood used for the ROLO Whole Blood Program comes from local blood donations, Shermer said. If you are unable to attend blood drives, you can call 253-968-1850 to arrange a visit to the center at the Madigan Annex, located in Building 9904, on East Johnson Street, on Lewis Main from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We collect blood from routine O blood donors at our local community blood drives," Shermer said. "Our goal is to get the units to the Armed Service Whole Blood Processing Laboratory-East within four days of collection so they can send it out on military air to arrive in Central Command by seven days of collection."