FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, and that blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come from volunteer blood donors like the people who turned up at the recent American Red Cross blood drive June 27 at Building 510.

Fifteen units of blood were collected during the unconventional drive, set up in Grimes Hall during the Fort Riley Regional Full-Scale Protection Exercise. More than 700 installation personnel and 20 emergency response organizations from the Central Flint Hills Region participated in the exercise with the goal to implement, test and evaluate all of Fort Riley's emergency management processes and systems.

Following the simulation of an early morning helicopter crash in one of Fort Riley's maneuver areas and a resulting prairie fire, 35 role players sprung into action to create a realistic mass casualty situation with 27 injured and seven dead.

If the MASCAL had been real, someone would have needed blood that day -- and fast. To increase readiness and posture the installation for success during future emergency management events, Fort Riley built a real blood drive into the exercise.

Four Red Cross employees set up the blood drive and processed donors throughout the day, working diligently to collect blood. With a goal of 16 units, they fell short by only one unit. Nineteen people showed up to donate, but three were deferred for recent travel and one wasn't able to donate a full unit of blood.

"This was a really great turnout for us … The timing worked out really great for us because we really need the blood," said Kristi Ingalls, senior donor recruitment representative, Central Plains Blood Region, ARC.

Garrison Commander Col. William Clark was among the volunteer donors June 27, and he presented Ingalls with a coin and certificate of appreciation.

Clark spoke of the importance of helping the community during a crisis and told the ARC volunteers that Fort Riley appreciates their efforts.

"In a time of emergency, we all have to chip in to help one another. And today's exercise is just an example of that. When we have a tragic situation on the installation, in order to help our installation return to a steady state of normal operations, we all have to chip in. It's about taking care of one another," Clark said.

According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Every year, the Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply, making blood available to any patient who needs it in more than 3,000 hospitals across the country. About 5 million people a year need a blood donation.

To make an appointment to give blood or for more information, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit