FORT HOOD, Texas (ASBP, June 17, 2011) " June 17, 2011, was a historic day at Fort Hood, Texas, as six comrades from the 44th Medical Brigade’s 432nd Blood Support Detachment completed the first apheresis and frozen blood training rotation at the Robertson Blood Center"the Army’s Center of Excellence for Apheresis Training and the Frozen Blood Program.

Five soldiers, along with one attached officer, spent a week at the Robertson Blood Center learning to collect platelets with a tactical apheresis device and deglycerize frozen blood products for frontline surgeons, observing how to run mobile blood drives, and working with the Armed Services Blood Program’s computerized blood tracking systems.

According to Sgt. Aubrey Hamilton, the detachment sergeant, the entire unit was originally scheduled to attend the apheresis training at Fort Hood, but changes in the unit’s mission only allowed for six to attend. While the whole unit could no longer attend, Hamilton says it was still a valuable experience.

“I think [the training is] great!” he said. “It seems like everything works well. [The Robertson Blood Center] is a good facility.”

The blood detachment was originally slated for deployment to Iraq, but because of the drawdown, Capt. Paul Randall will deploy to Iraq as the unit’s laboratory officer, blood banker and medical consultant for the 47th Combat Support Hospital. Randall is no stranger to military blood, having served 14 years as an enlisted blood banker before being appointed to officer ranks nearly 4 1/2 years ago.

“I like the path for donation through the center; it is actually very well structured,” said Randall. “[The soldiers in training] learned what they needed to deploy.”

Other members of the team that travelled to Texas for the training were Sgt. Matthew Ursery, of Denver, Colo.; Spc. Michelle Goggans, of Alexander City, Ala.; Spc. Zachary Stone, of Florence, S.C.,; and Pfc. Arnold Raymond, of Madison, Fla.

”This is a great group to lead off our program,” said master trainer Staff Sgt. Bryan Gorell. “They’ve learned important tasks here so that they are ready to support our wounded warriors on the battlefield or back here in a hospital. We’ve appreciated their efforts this week and can’t wait to see the next group arrive.”

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