Operation Pulse Lift
CIVIL AIR PATROL’S - OPERATION PULSE LIFT
SUBJECT: The U.S. Air Force Auxiliary – Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is chartered by Congress for three programs; Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (ES). The ES program includes, but is not limited to Search & Rescue, Drug Interdiction, and Disaster Relief (DR). One crucial DR operation is blood collection and transport. Known as Operation Pulse Lift (OPL), it was in CAP’s Top 10 Initiatives of 2020 and 2022. By 2021 it had become CAP’s largest/longest running DR mission - Headquarters 1st Air Force Mission 23-1-3525.
DISCUSSION: Beginning 12 April 2017 to the end of 2019, the CAP stood up OPL; providing facilities and Blood Support Teams (BST); and hosting 12 Blood Donor Centers (BDC) and collecting 527 units from two Arizona sites.
- On 17 March 2020, at the urging of the U.S. Surgeon General, OPL mobilized to support CAP’s COVID-19 response, because the nation had lost 80% of its donor sites due to precautionary COVID closures. The first BDC was operational 15 April 2020. During the initial nine-month surge response of 2020, CAP hosted 42 temporary BDCs at seven sites. With other donations, from nation-wide members, OPL supported the collection of 1,530 blood units: becoming one of the largest consistent temporary blood donation programs in the nation. This resulted in two ARC Outstanding Service recognitions from the President/CEO of the American Red Cross (ARC).
- In 2021, CAP quintupled the previous year’s effort with 93 BDC events, collecting 7,493 units from 52 wings, at 23 BDC sites, and 372 blood transport sorties. This blood went to hospitals supporting wildland fires in the Pacific Coast States, hurricanes along the Gulf of Mexico, and a southwest winter storm,
- In 2022, CAP was awarded “Premier Blood Partner” status, and later the Ironman Award by the ARC for nation-wide blood support efforts, while collecting 8,773 units that year at 112 BDC events.
- By 6 May 2023 the total COVID collections/donations were at 21,050 units, potentially saving 63,150 lives during the pandemic. That is roughly 10% of the lives lost in the U.S. from the COVID-19. Quite an impact!
- On 21 April 2021, OPL began BDC augmentation and transport support to the Armed Services Blood Program. Since then, 34 multi-day BDCs were supported at Dyess AFB, TX; Joint Base San Antonio; the Air Force Academy, Peterson AFB, CO; Ft Huachuca, AZ; and Ft Carson, CO. One event supported the blood sent to Washington D.C. and Germany for returning U.S. casualties from the Kabul Airport Suicide Bombing.
- The Kansas Wing leads in blood transports with 61 in FY23; 370 during the COVID crisis; saving countless lives.
- On 11-12 December 2021, a major tornado outbreak hit the Quad-State region of the nation inflicting over 90 deaths and hundreds of injured. At the request of the ARC, OPL surged, and supported the collection of 222 units of blood from members in 31 CAP Wings and the National Headquarters Staff.
- On 28 September 2022, Cat 4 Hurricane Ian hit Florida causing massive destruction and fatalities. It also generated a 1,000-unit shortfall across the state. CAP responded in 72 hours with 404 units donated by individual members.
- Throughout the COVID-19 operations there have been over 21,000 public encounters during 268 BDC events, but with stringent adherence to both safety and infectious disease protection protocols, enforced by CAP Safety Officers, not a single COVID cross-infection has occurred to a CAP member. None!
CONCLUSION: Since 2017, CAP’s national award-winning Operation Pulse Lift mission supported 300 BDC events, at 41 sites, collecting 21,000+ blood units; and reaffirming itself as the nation’s #1 Volunteer Emergency Management Agency, in 2020 and 2021, by the International Association of Emergency Managers. It has has become CAP’s largest/longest Disaster Relief mission, supporting a half a dozen other disasters nation-wide and resulting in twice as many lives (63,600) saved, than all the combined missions in CAP’s 81 -Year history.