For Capt. Sarah Fortier, a brigade medical officer for the 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne), it doesn’t matter if it’s a walking blood bank while deployed or an Armed Services Blood Program blood drive at home, she is always leading the way to make sure blood is available when it’s needed — no matter what environment she is in.
Last month, the 18th Fires Brigade sponsored a blood drive to support the ASBP at Fort Bragg. To say there was an overwhelming response to the call would be putting it mildly as Soldiers were donating at the mobile site and at the donor center throughout the day. The drive was a welcomed surprise for the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center and more than 120 units of blood were collected.
However, this wasn’t Fortier’s first introduction to the ASBP. In fact, she was playing a key role in saving lives well before her assignment to the 18th Fires Brigade.
Before her current assignment, Fortier was deployed to Forward Operating Base Fenty in Afghanistan, with Company C, 426th Base Support Battalion, 1st Basic Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, where she served in the treatment and evacuation platoons at a Role II facility.
A Role II facility is where Soldiers are medically air evacuated for treatment before they are sent elsewhere for a higher level of care or back to their units. Seeing this day in and day out, emphasized the importance of blood donations Fortier said.
“Many of the casualties that we treated came to us with severe internal injuries or with lower body full and partial amputations and required a lot of blood,” Fortier said.
During her deployment, her platoon ran more than 40 blood drives from their walking blood bank.
“We pre-screened hundreds of Soldiers and civilians on the (forward operating base) when we first arrived in theater,” Fortier said. “(We) were able to just make an announcement, draw and test the blood, and put it right into the patients who needed it. It was a very efficient process.
“There was one incident in particular that was very chaotic when one of the vehicles from 1st Squadron, 61st Calvary hit (a roadside bomb) and had two, very critical patients who were both bleeding internally,” continued Fortier. “The challenge was that we had to collect two different blood types at the same time, so we needed twice as many donors and had a limited amount of space.”
This particular blood drive lasted over six hours because the injuries suffered by one of the Soldiers was so severe that he went through over 40 units of blood in that time period until the medical team was able to control his internal bleeding.
“If we wouldn’t have had a developed program and stream lined the process to retrieve blood, then we might not have been able to save this Soldier due to the large quantities of blood that he lost. Luckily, both Soldiers survived. It’s great that when something like that happens, everyone on the base shows up at the Aid Station to volunteer to help. Without the volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to conduct an operation this important. It just shows you what a difference a program like this makes.
“I know that I am pleased with the outcome and so is our command team,” said Fortier.
If your unit would like to sponsor a blood drive please contact the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center.
Blood and platelets are in high demand, so donors are always needed and welcomed at the center.
Please call us at 396-9925 to schedule an appointment for platelets or walk-ins are accepted for whole blood donations.
To find out more about the Armed Services Blood Program or to schedule an appointment, please visit us online: www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with some of our staff, see more photos or to get the latest news, visit us here: www.facebook.com/militaryblood, www.flickr.com/militaryblood, and www.twitter.com/militaryblood.