(left to right) Tech. Sgt. Joshua Bense, Staff Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Rashad El-Jurdi, all 379th Blood Transshipment Center technicians, unload the recently delivered dry ice into a storage bin. The team goes through 3,300 pounds of dry ice every week. The dry ice is used to pack and ship the frozen blood products, giving them a shelf life of 48 hours before the products need to be re-iced. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence Blake)
Members of the 379th Blood Transshipment Center (left to right) Staff Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez, Staff Sgt. Rashad El-Jurdi, Capt. Brian Cruz and Tech. Sgt. Joshua Bense sort through and process every unit of blood distributed throughout the area of responsibility. The BTC is the sole supplier of blood products and dry ice in the in the AOR and is responsible for maintaining blood supplies for two blood shipment depots and 32 forward operating bases. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence Blake)
by Senior Airman Bryan Swink
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/31/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The mission is critical ... literally. Many service members throughout the area of responsibility are in desperate need of blood to survive.
The 379th Blood Transshipment Center is considered the heart of the area of responsibility because the Airmen here pump donated blood to all the medical units in need.
The team receives between 1,000 and 1,500 units of blood product per week from the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Lab-East at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
"Our goal is to receive the product, process it and ship it out to medical facilities throughout the AOR," said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Bense, 379th BTC technician deployed from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.
The staff works with the U.S. Central Command Air Forces Joint Blood Operation officer to put together a daily blood report to forecast how much blood will be needed downrange to maintain current reserves.
"Approximately 95 percent of the products received are donated from military members through the military blood program," said Tech. Sgt. Valerie Glasscock, 379th BTC technician deployed from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. "On few occasions the Department of Defense purchases blood products from the American Red Cross or civilian blood banks in the event the military blood program is not able to fully support one or more blood types."
The five-man team manages its stockpiles by scanning each unit into the Theater Medical Data Storage which maintains accountability for each unit. The products are either stored or reprocessed for shipment. The BTC is the sole supplier of blood products and dry ice in the in the AOR and is responsible for maintaining blood supplies for two blood shipment depots and 32 forward operating bases.
During shipment, red blood cells are packed with 14 pounds of wet ice while the frozen red blood cells, plasma and cryoprecipitate are packed with dry ice. These units must be re-iced every 48 hours to maintain the blood products effectiveness end ensure the recipients safety.
This BTC team is comprised of Airmen from different Air Force specialty codes throughout the medical field.
"The team we have right now is a testament to the quality of Airmen that we have," said Capt. Brian Cruz, 379th BTC chief. "We all come from different AFSCs, bases and components but hit the ground running; executed the mission and executed it well. I couldn't ask for a better, more dedicated group of individuals."