Lessons Learned from Las Vegas

We offer our sincere condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas, including family and friends of the five Kern County victims who died, and the Tehachapi resident still fighting for her life. This horrific event has certainly hit home for all of us.  Unfortunately, we did miss an opportunity to have platelets in position to help those wounded.

Blood Centers of America (BCA) contacted us at 9:55 am on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in a desperate search for 50 units of lifesaving platelets for the American Red Cross (ARC). Sadly, we had none to offer, as our own collections were barely enough to sustain our regular patient needs. Day after day all week we had begged people to come in to donate platelets, but nothing worked.  Had we had any to share, they would have immediately been on their way to the national supply chain, which just hours later was sending additional supplies to back up ready supplies in Las Vegas, NV to save lives in the worst mass shooting in United States history.  Lesson number one: The blood on the shelves saves lives.

Lives hanging in the balance due to bleeding, like the injuries faced by so many victims in Las Vegas, need three products in combination to stop the bleeding and survive: plasma, platelets, and then red cells.  These are repeated until the bleeding is under control, and called the Massive Transfusion Protocol or MTP.  The MTP was developed on the battlefields in Iran and Iraq and is now used in all trauma centers nationwide.  All these products must all be on the shelf at the hospital, available to save lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The local blood bank is notified an MTP is underway, and additional products rushed in to provide backup supplies.  If additional stocks are needed, the blood bank taps into their own unique supply chains of other nearby banks and/or the national supply chains, which include our affiliate BCA, and ARC.

The existing blood distribution system sends needed products around the nation every day. So long as regular donors keep up donations, and mobile buses can hit the road, there is sufficient tested blood and plasma on the shelves, although it may need to be moved around in emergencies. These products are readily available because plasma can be frozen for up to a year, and red blood cells have a 42 day shelf life. Both can be stocked in quantity. The same is not true of platelets, which must be kept warm and moving, so that they stay viable. They only last 5 days, so a steady stream of donors is needed each day to provide them.  

 Lesson number two: There is never a need for blood donation lines. The donations given after a need occurs will not be ready to distribute for at least 24 hours due to testing. Unfortunately, calls to donate blood after the shooting motivated thousands of donors nationwide to get in line to donate whole blood, and blood banks, including ours, were inundated with goodhearted donors. According to ARC, they transferred just 250 units of blood to help Las Vegas hospitals, a mere drop compared to all that was donated in an effort to help afterwards. If not used, those products will all expire in November.  The best message is to contact your local blood bank to make arrangements to donate what is needed over the next weeks.

Lesson number three: More people need to give platelets.  Even though it takes a little more time, if you have the veins and platelet count to do it, please, please find out more about donating them. Before, during and after the shooting platelets have been in short supply.  We are still turning down blood banks checking to see if we have any to share today.  Thankfully, the message has been getting out locally that platelets are what is most needed now, and we have been able to find new donors this week, but many more are needed.  Platelets are needed by surgery and cancer patients, premature infants and a host of other ill and injured people every day.  None of these patients will survive without volunteer donors.

To find out more about platelet donation, call 661-323-4222.  With your help, when the next call for platelets comes, we will be able to say: “Yes, we can help”.


Target Your Blood Type

This October we ask our donors to target their blood type! Each blood type has the potential to save many lives, so we take this month as an opportunity to teach our donors about their blood type and encourage them to donate in a way that helps maximize the lifesaving potential of their donation. Donors who choose to get their platelet count tested during their donation will receive a coupon for a FREE Pint of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream! All donors targeting their blood type this month enter to win a $500 Target gift card thanks to our EAKC Monthly Prize sponsor, Barrett Business Services Incorporated (BBSI).

Recently Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico braced for three hurricanes that left blood products supplies low in the affected areas. That was followed by the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas. In all cases, the needs for platelets went on long after the red blood cell needs were met, as this fragile blood component lasts only 5 days. The right stores of platelets, plasma and red cells are all needed to be able to cover local needs and help in such emergency situations.

Our donor centers will have “Target Your Blood Type” information booklets that hold information about each blood type and the most effective components of your blood that can be used to save patient lives. For some donors this may mean donating platelets and plasma, for others, it could mean donating whole blood. Targeting your blood type will unlock the true potential of your donation’s ability to save lives and keep our county’s supply of lifesaving blood components. We hope that you will join us in saving lives this October during our Target Your Blood Type Campaign.

BBSI Sponsors October EAKC Prize

save-livesWe vampires are at it again:  “Ve Vant your blood” in October! Thanks to the Executives’ Association of Kern County (EAKC) there is a drawing for a $500 shopping spree at Target courtesy of Barrett Business Services, Inc., or BBSI. It’s not at all scary to enter to win this great Target gift card. Just donate blood, platelets, or plasma at either of our donor centers or most mobile drives anytime in October. Be sure to fill in an entry blank to get in on this treat drawing!

BBSI has served small and medium-sized businesses in the greater Bakersfield area since 2005, by providing payroll services, as well as human resources, workers compensation, safety and risk management consulting.  According to the company:

“We are providers of Business Management Solutions for small businesses. We deliver expertise, guidance and tactical support that allow owners to run their business more effectively. In order to do that, we operate under a unique business model; we combine the tools-based approach of human resource outsourcing with the knowledge-based approach of professional management consulting to create an integrated management platform. This platform helps our clients leverage their internal resources more effectively to operate with maximum efficiency.”

To learn more or speak with a BBSI professional call 661-377-1060 and ask for Jeff or Patrick.



October is Rusty’s Pizza Month

Rusty's GirlDid you know October is National Pizza Month? What better way to celebrate than by picking up a coupon for a free individual cheese or pepperoni pizza when you save lives with us this month.

 Rusty’s Pizza is a long time supporter of blood donation in our community. Our friends at Rusty’s provide coupons for a free individual cheese or pepperoni pizza to each donor in the months of January, April, July, and October each year. The coupons are good at any of Rusty’s nine convenient locations.This is an amazing commitment to recognizing our blood donors unmatched in the industry!

Rustys-LogoSince its beginning, Rusty’s has been involved in the community with a strong emphasis on children through school programs and youth organizations. Student blood donors also get the individual pizza coupons at school blood drives all year. We appreciate Rusty’s sense of community and support of blood donation. Thank you Rusty’s Pizza!

October Donor – Michael Ortiz

Michael Ortiz made sure to keep his platelet donation appointment when he heard how low the supplies were.  He was pretty much all by himself in the Bolthouse Donor Center sadly enough.  Michael has given platelets 4 times now, and knows he can give those along with a unit of O+ blood every two months, then he can also give platelets and plasma the month in between.  He wants to keep getting the gallon club license plate frames, but also wants to help the most people with his donation.  That’s why he gave automated donation a try when Houchin staff explained the great need.

Michael suggests that young people such as himself give platelet donation a try, since donors are needed every day to keep up with the demand for something with only a five day life.  He says, “More younger people should come out and try it.  Help others out if you can”.

Michael likes heading to Iron Arms Gym after work and hanging with his girl in his spare time.  He also likes helping the community through blood and platelet donation.