William Beaumont Army Medical Center received a new vehicle that will aid the Armed Services Blood Program at Fort Bliss.
Known as the blood-mobile, this bus-size vehicle which is 41 feet in length and 12 feet in height, has the capability to expand like an RV and it houses six stations where donors can sit, relax and watch a video while donating. It came with four air conditioning units, two generators, and an intercom system with modern electronics.
Leadership took the time to walk through the vehicle and ensure it met their expectations.
“It has been five years in the making to get this thing on board,” said Capt. Annette Mott, chief of blood services at WBAMC. “As with any requisition in the (U.S.) Army, it takes a long time, but it was definitely worth the wait.”
The Fort Bliss ASBP donor center along with the WBAMC transportation office and it’s leadership was able to choose the specifications for the interior, the texture and color of the materials, as well as the main components needed to ensure issues would be taken care of easily.
“We also had the opportunity to confer with other military blood donor centers that have blood-mobiles like this and we had the opportunity to discuss with them what the short-falls were with their vehicles and we have taken the lessons learned and applied them,” said Mott.
The new blood-mobile started with an idea, back when Michael L. Amaral, currently the director for the El Paso Veteran’s Affairs Health Care System, was the chief of staff at WBAMC.
“I was here when we first came up with the idea for it,” said Amaral. “We have a huge troop and veteran population here in El Paso and Fort Bliss, we should have this vehicle. I am really proud of the folks who put this thing together.”
A month before it arrived, Nathaniel Cuff, phlebotomist at Fort Bliss ASBP donor center, and Hector Hernandez, transportation assistant, WBAMC, traveled to North Carolina to inspect the vehicle before it made the trip to Fort Bliss. They asked questions on not just the aesthetics, but also about the mechanics of the vehicle.
“I had to ensure the final touches were correctly laid out as we wanted,” said Cuff. “I made sure it had all the right components that we asked for.”
“I checked the hydraulic pumps, the slide outs, and I ensured we got the air conditioning that we asked for because it can get real hot in El Paso,” said Hernandez.
Col. Erik G. Rude, commander, WBAMC, believes the vehicle will add more capabilities to the donor center and will allow them to go where Soldiers are to conduct blood drives so they are not taken away from their duties.
“Biggest thing is that our blood program is one of the best in the Department of Defense,” said Rude. “It was an honor for me, as I am on my way out, to welcome this new capability into our organization. We can still achieve and focus readiness on Fort Bliss by going to where Soldiers are.”
Rude encourages folks to donate whenever possible, because the potential to save someone’s life is always there.
“Whether it is in our operating room or sending it down range to Soldiers in the battlefield, there’s goodness that is going to come from that (blood) donation,” said Rude.
Mott echoed the commander’s comments on blood donations.
“We want the Fort Bliss community to know that when they see this vehicle and they donate in this vehicle, that their blood is supporting Soldiers and their beneficiaries and a good majority of our blood does go downrange in support of theater operations and combat transfusions,” said Mott.
Fort Bliss provides about 20 percent of the blood that the U.S. Army sends downrange into combat operations and is one of seven ASBP blood donor centers designated to do so in the nation.
The WBAMC transportation office is still working the final registration and administration tasks to be completed before handing it over to the blood donor center.
“It might take 30 to 40 days, but we will get it done so that it can be used effectively,” said Hernandez.
The intended first time use for the blood-mobile is scheduled for the Joint Task Force North blood drive on August 2, 2019.