Kinser battalion breaks blood drive record by donating 180 pints
November 1, 2004
CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — While donating blood may mean giving the gift of life, units on Okinawa have been donating with another goal in mind: earning the title of top blood donors on the island.
Blood drives here recently have turned into a competitive sport as units have been trying to outperform one another to break the Armed Services Blood Bank Center’s record for number of pints gathered at one drive, according to C. Tracy Parmer, blood donor recruiter.
“[The competition] started as a little snowball that has turned into a snowman,” Parmer said. “It started as a small record on Kadena (Air Base) of 92 pints. Then the Futenma (Marine Corps Air Station) Chapel broke that record with 115, and Camp Schwab recently attempted to break that, but came up short with 102.”
During a drive last Thursday on Camp Kinser, 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion shattered the recent record by donating 180 pints, Parmer said.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” Parmer proclaimed. “They said they could do it, and they did.”
Chief Petty Officer Paula Africa, a corpsman with 3rd MRB, helped set up the record-breaking drive, which she said was easy.
“With the Marines, you don’t have to drum up business, all they say is ‘Tell us where to be and what time, and we’ll be there,’” Africa said.
Parmer said the unit actually had more than 200 show up to give blood, but because of recent deployments or other reasons such as recent tattoos or medical conditions, some were not allowed to give. But she added that even the folks who didn’t qualify stuck around to help where needed.
Contributing to the large turnout was the fact that 3rd MRB’s commander agreed to give every person who donated a 72-hour pass — a three-day weekend. Parmer said that if more units had incentives like that, more people would donate blood.
“The 72 helped, but it’s not the reason I donated,” said first-time donor Pfc. Billy Sirls. “It’s an opportunity to give back. Giving blood is such a small way to give something back that means so much … there’s no reason not to donate.”
While blood drives turning competitive wasn’t the plan, Parmer welcomes the newfound success. She said the center’s shelves are typically thin — before Thursday’s drive they were down to five units of B-positive. While Parmer said the competitive drives make blood donation more fun, they more importantly increase the stockpile at the center, which supplies the Pacific region.
“Any way I can get people to come out and donate, I’ll do it,” she said.
One wish Parmer has is that every unit on the island would appoint a blood donor point of contact with whom she could work. She said that would help in planning blood drives and increasing turnout.
For more information on blood donation regulations, go to: www.oki.med.navy.mil and click on “Info for Patients and Community,” then click on the “Blood Donor Program” tab on the left side of the page.
Upcoming blood drives
The Armed Services Blood Bank Center has scheduled three blood drives on Okinawa during this week.
The first drive is scheduled for Monday on Kadena Air Base at Bldg. 409 from 8 a.m. to noon. Kadena also will host the second drive on Wednesday at Bldg. 938, also from 8 a.m. to noon.
The last drive is scheduled for Thursday on Camp Hansen at Bldg. 2386 from 8 a.m. to noon.
For more information, contact C. Tracy Parmer at 643-7710, or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.