Badly-Needed Blood Drive Finds Host At Camp Ripley

March 26, 2020 (CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota) – During difficult times, the American Red Cross has literally been the lifeblood that has come to the aid of people everywhere. Their mission statement reads: The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Now while the country faces the effects of the COVID-19 virus, many of the comforts and conveniences Americans are used to have been postponed or cancelled.  Nationally, nearly 9,000 local blood drives have been cancelled, eliminating the estimated 250,000 donations they would have received.  In Minnesota, close to 300 blood drives have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns resulting in 9,800 fewer units of blood.

“Blood donation is essential to ensuring the health of the community. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need,” expressed Sue Thesenga, External Communications Manager with the American Red Cross.

With the cooperation of the Minnesota National Guard, a team from the American Red Cross in Minnesota was able to save an event from the cancellation list.  A local blood drive was held March 26, 2020, in the National Guard Armory on Camp Ripley.

“I’m very excited to have the American Red Cross here on Camp Ripley today conducting their Blood Drive even in this time of high anxiety,” said Brig. Gen.l Lowell Kruse, Senior Commander on Camp Ripley.

The Red Cross team and volunteers set up their equipment in the ‘Old Armory,’ one of Camp Ripley’s most historic buildings, which is still in use today.  The location near the main gate made it easy for civilian donors to arrive and depart following their appointment as well as ease of access for Camp Ripley employees.

“Everyone in the Camp Ripley community and our employees are looking for ways they can make a difference right now. Our community is our strongest resource and I’m proud of Camp Ripley’s role in bringing it together and acting as a stabilizing force in this time of crisis,” added Kruse.

Managing a full roster as well as several potential walk-ins, the volunteers at the blood drive established a quick and efficient method of checking-in, conducting a mini assessment and completing the donation while meeting the safety protocols established for everyone’s wellbeing.

Multiple steps and precautions are taken to ensure that donors, Red Cross membe s and volunteers are safe.  Some of these steps include temperature checks before presenting donors to enter the blood drive or donation center, using and changing protective gloves with every donor, wiping down the donor-touched area after every collection, conducting a donor mini-physical, providing hand sanitizer and spacing donation beds to allow proper social distancing.

Over four dozen donors took time out of their day to help meet the goal of the American Red Cross. Even during a time of restriction, people are urged to help support the need of many emergency services in our communities.

“You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not mean social disengagement,” stated in an excerpt from the U.S. Surgeon General.

“There is no data or evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion. Right now, people are following public health guidance to keep their families safe, and that includes contributing to a readily available supply of blood for hospitals.”

“We greatly appreciate the generosity of the public to help stock hospital shelves for patients in need. But this crisis isn’t over,” as stated by the Red Cross.  As experts have emphasized, there is no certain end-date in this fight against coronavirus and the Red Cross needs the help of blood donors and blood drive hosts to maintain enough blood supply for weeks to come.

If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment now to donate in the days and weeks ahead by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Over the next several weeks more local blood drives will be announced during this time of critical shortage. As a member of many communities, the Minnesota National Guard is happy to be able to help. Stay tuned for details of an upcoming blood drive in St. Paul. Hope to see you there!