U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman John Slack with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, receives a Valkyrie blood transfusion at the Battalion Aid Station during an Expeditionary Medical Integration Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 6, 2022. Expeditionary Operations Training Group conducted EMIC to lay a foundation of skills and knowledge required for Marine Expeditionary Unit medical personnel to provide the highest levels of health service support capability in any operational environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley)

While collecting blood is a vital part of the Armed Services Blood Program, delivering it to the field ensures that medical professionals have the supply they need to save lives. The ASBP, along with blood programs from each military service, supports combatant commands by transporting life-saving blood to the battlefield.

“The ASBP works closely with the combatant commands to ensure that blood products are available and delivered to the locations where they are needed,” U.S. Army Col. (P) Christopher Lee Evans, director of the Army Blood Program at Joint Base San Antonio. “The service components’ blood programs play a vital role in ensuring that military service members and their families receive the care and treatment they need to survive on the battlefield and helps save lives in times of emergency.” The ASBP gets blood donations through the blood drives they hold around the world at their collection centers or through their mobile blood drives.

“The blood our patients need is the blood we have on the shelf right now. We need people to get out, donate blood, and make a habit of it. The ASBP is dedicated to supporting our warfighters, their families, veterans, and retirees,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Hebert, head of the U.S. Navy blood program.

Having an excess of blood supply “comes down to readiness,” according to Hebert.

“Blood is one of those things where you don’t know you need it until you do. Having blood on the shelf ensures medical providers have the tools they need to save lives when they need it,” he said.

Getting Blood to Where it is Needed

After receiving the donated blood, the ASBP then needs to get the blood to combatant commands. The ASBP first processes, tests, and stores the blood.

“The collected blood is then packaged and shipped to military hospitals and clinics, forward-deployed locations, and other locations as needed. Once shipped, the blood is then stored in a blood bank until it is needed for a surgical procedure or emergency transfusion. Then, the blood is delivered to the field/surgical unit, where it is administered to the patient by a medical professional,” said Evans.

What Happens if There is a Shortage in the Field

“If there is a shortage of blood in the field, the ASBP may increase the number of blood drives, or collect blood from other sources such as other blood banks, or use commercial flights to transport the blood from one location to another,” said Evans.

The ASBP coordinates with military hospitals or clinics, forward-deployed locations, and other organizations to ensure a steady supply of blood is available to meet the needs of the military,” he added.

The ASBP may also hold blood drives in the field to support military operations worldwide, or mobile blood drives from donors at forward-deployed locations, military bases, and other locations.

“These mobile blood drives are usually set up in temporary locations, such as tents or trailers, and are essential to meet the needs of the military in the field,” said Evans.

ASBP’s primary focus is to get the donated blood to the warfighter or family member who need it.

“We enable survival,” Hebert said. “War is not pretty, but blood helps bring our warfighters back home. By having blood available at our military hospitals and clinics, it brings a feeling of security to our warfighters, because they know their families and loved ones will have the blood they need at home when something happens.”

For more information on The Armed Services Blood Program visit https://health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Health-Readiness/ASBP.

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