By Rachel Ponder, APG NewsFebruary 23, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The 9th Army Medical Laboratory's Feb. 3 blood drive was an exceptional success, yielding two times the expected number of donations.
Victoria Fernette, a public affairs specialist with the Armed Services Blood Bank Center, set up a goal of 40 participants for the unit's first Armed Forces Blood Drive, based on past participation.
Of the 114 community members who volunteered to give blood, minus the deferrals and incompletes, a total of 72 usable units were collected.
Those numbers were far from the few registrants that 9th AML blood drive coordinator Capt. Bjorn Listerud said initially registered.
"Typically a small unit will not have the numbers that we saw for this blood drive," said Listerud. "This was my first blood drive and I wasn't sure what to expect. I heard from experienced blood drive coordinators that 20 was a good number; half of that would be a good
turnout. So I was feeling great about the 12 who signed up, but then the numbers grew quickly to 60 then 80 then 95."
Listerud credits the unit's success with its central location, unit pride and online availability.
"Our unit had just moved to APG North, and into a new building and we really wanted to showcase the new facility,' said Listerud. "Locating the blood drive at the unit allowed Soldiers and personnel to take breaks and give blood without traveling to a distant location. We also happened to be centrally located, only minutes away from large organizations like C4ISR and near the gym, where people could stop by after a workout.
"It was also a matter of pride for 9th AML Soldiers who wanted their unit to succeed," he said.
Listerud said that the convenience of scheduling online appointments made a big difference.
"This was a very convenient tool. Even after the blood drive, it allows us to track donations, and informs participants about upcoming drives, sends out reminders and lists points of contacts," he said.
Fernette attributed much of the blood drive's success to effective networking and commitment. She said the key to a good event is having the coordinators believe in the cause.
"I called and emailed every unit [point of contact] I could think of to get the word out that we were holding a blood drive," said Listerud.
He said the support from the garrison elevated participation. HHC Commander Capt. Malikah McCormick ensured additional messages were mailed out about the event and helped spread the
word in several forums.
Listerud said regardless of the reason for the success, having an adequate blood supply was the most important and motivating factor for the event.
"Donating blood is a quick and easy way for people to help Soldiers, and the message hit home that we need to help," he said. "We need to help our brothersin- arms any way we can. I would encourage other units to host an Armed Forces Blood Drive. The reward is tremendous knowing that we are helping others."
"If we can bring the [Armed Forces Blood Drive] team to the donors, wherever they are, there will be more participation," said Fernette. "I would love to hear from other groups on APG that would like to help out the Armed Services Blood Program and invite us to their building."
For more information or to host a drive, call Fernette at 301-295-2109. Visit militaryblood.dod.mil for more information.
The AFBD ships donated blood products to Soldiers, retirees and Family members deployed and at home, in peace and war, anywhere in the world. Donated blood can be transported from a blood drive site to within theater in three days.