Operation Pulse Lift Takes Off in Oklahoma
1st Lt. Tamara Shannon shows of her donation at the Glenpool collection site. (Source: Capt. Robert Platner, CAP)
by Capt. Brandon Lunsford, CAP, Oklahoma Wing
TULSA, Okla. (March 25, 2021) – A little over a year ago the country faced the beginnings of a health crisis. As the country began shutdowns it affected every fabric of American society. Restaurants closed, retail outlets closed, and schools sent students home to begin virtual studies. As schools retooled their internal frameworks and class designs moved education to homes, an unintended consequence arose in Arizona. The American Red Cross, an organization of volunteers and staff working to deliver vital services - from providing relief and support to those in crisis, to helping the American people be prepared to respond in emergencies, lost its primary blood donation sites. The Red Cross contacted Civil Air Patrol officials in the state. Arizona CAP members knew exactly what to do.
Civil Air Patrol is an organization that is not widely known, but it has a very wide impact. Its mission is simple, “Supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power.”
“Supporting the Red Cross is an ongoing mission for Civil Air Patrol - in this role serving as the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Bob Ditch of Arizona Wing. “Over the past three years, CAP members, along with their families and friends, have hosted the donation of more than 500 units of blood through CAP’s Operation Pulse Lift.”
With schools going to virtual class designs and closing their doors, Arizona CAP squadrons, in partnership with the Red Cross, expanded their existing donor program by providing locations to meet the demand of blood donations.
A Red Cross employee explaining donation procedures to Capt. Robert Platner. (Source: 1st Lt. Tamara Shannon)
“That was how this began,” stated Capt. Robert Platner, Oklahoma Wing’s Health Services Officer. “We saw the need being met in Arizona and reached out to Lt. Col. Ditch to see what we could do to assist. He connected us with the Red Cross and here we are. What we are doing today is literally affecting and changing lives.”
Platner joined CAP when he was 13 years old. His family relocated and he was unable to continue in the program. He visited a local squadron 55 years later and rejoined.
This first donation day for Oklahoma, in support of Operation Pulse Lift saw 14 total donors.
“With all that’s going on in the world today,” Master Sgt. Faun Daves said. “The need for blood never goes away. I’ve always felt a sense of pride after giving and I wanted to do my part.”
Daves joined CAP in 2018 with his wife and then 13-year-old son. “It took me a while to become actively involved,” Daves recalled. “I would mostly watch what the cadets were doing. Knowing what I know now, and with the experiences I’ve shared with my family in CAP, I really wish I had not waited.”
Master Sgt. Faun Daves took time out of his work day to make his donation. (Source: 1st Lt. Tamara Shannon)
The initial donation event for Oklahoma brought with it several lessons learned. Maj. Bill Herold, Oklahoma Wing’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, took note.
“This mission was invaluable,” Herold stated. “We’ll add what we’ve learned to our planning for the next event. We cannot wait to see this effort grow and fill the need. Seeing a group of volunteers come together during an event where our assistance was requested is truly amazing.”
“Looking back,” Platner added. “I wish I would have rejoined years ago. I missed being a part of this, helping people.”
The next donation event in support of Operation Pulse Lift is scheduled for the end of May, with dates pending.
Follow the adventures of Oklahoma Wing at Facebook.com/OKWGCAP
For More Information:
About Civil Air Patrol
Now celebrating its 80th year, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 130 lives during the past fiscal year. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.