THe Armed Services Blood Program opened the doors to its fifth tri-service donor center May 16. The new Armed Services Blood Bank Center-San Antonio located at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, operates under the Air Force Blood Program’s licenses, but is staffed by members from the Army, Navy and Air Force.
“We are really excited about having the new joint center operational in Texas,” said Navy Capt. Roland Fahie, ASBP director. “All five of our tri-service centers are a true representation of the jointness of the Armed Services Blood Program. All of the services are working together, under the same roof, to accomplish the same mission of the ASBP – saving lives.”
According to Air Force Lt. Col. Angela Hudson, director of the Air Force Blood Program, the ribbon cutting ceremony in May was the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work put in by leadership and staff members from all services.
“The collaboration that has occurred with our sister services has made this a reality for the San Antonio multi-service market,” Hudson said. “We have capitalized on the tri-service culture of the Armed Services Blood Program and designed a DoD center that mirrors how together we become force multipliers for the combatant commanders’ missions worldwide.”
To make a tri-service center, personnel from both the Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base donor centers were consolidated into one location. However, the Akeroyd Blood Donor Center — the Army Blood Program’s donor center on Fort Sam Houston — will remain open to serve as a fixed mobile blood drive location for the ASBBC-SA said Army Lt. Col. Audra Taylor, director of the Army Blood Program.
“The Akeroyd Blood Donor Center is still an operational asset for the Army, and will remain open under the Army Blood Program’s Food and Drug Administration license to collect plasma for the Army’ freeze-dried plasma effort,” Taylor said. “While both donor centers still exist, the difference is that all whole blood collections in the Joint Base San Antonio area will fall under the umbrella of the ASBBC-SA. So it consolidates whole blood collections under one umbrella.”
According to Hudson, the ASBBC-SA is also the only DoD infectious disease testing center in the continental U.S. that supports numerous ASBP facilities.
“The ASBBC-SA will be a vital asset for the Armed Services Blood Program when it comes to infectious disease testing,” said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Riggs, director of the Navy Blood Program. “Right now, we have several locations that send their collections to San Antonio for testing, so it will certainly benefit the military blood program – in terms of costs, training and efficiency.”
Fahie said the ASBBC-SA will collect, process and ship blood worldwide. It will also support the blood needs of the San Antonio Military Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, and fill contingency blood requests from numerous worldwide commands.
Additionally, Hudson said the new center will make blood collection and transfusion operations downrange a little easier.
“Working and training together in the same facility allows members to learn each services' culture and language so that when we go downrange for deployments, operations will mirror exactly what we are doing in our daily work in stateside facilities,” Hudson said. “Our staff members will be accustomed to working in a tri-service environment, so we can use the efficiencies from all three services to create a larger platform that can meet expanded missions downrange.”
The ASBBC-SA, located on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Air Force Base, is the first joint blood donor and infectious disease testing center operating under the Air Force Blood Program license.
It joins the ASBBC-Europe in Landstuhl, Germany, and the ASSBC-Pacific Northwest on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., — both operated by the Army — and the U.S. Pacific Command ASBBC in Okinawa, Japan, and ASBBC at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., that are operated by the Navy.
“I think for the Armed Services Blood Program as a whole, you can’t go wrong with the idea of a joint center like the ASBBC-SA and having the services working together for a common mission and a common goal,” Taylor said. “In the end, it doesn’t really matter who the license holder is, it’s always ‘one team, one fight’ supporting the military blood program. It’s a win-win for everybody.”