U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Abenicio Chavez, a member of the blood depot section of Sigonella’s Naval Training Readiness Medical Center, visited Camp Lemonnier to test the mission readiness of medical personnel stationed in the Horn of Africa.
The training focused around the process of frozen blood deglycerolization and how it helps maintain blood operations around the joint force and bolster Camp Lemonnier’s walking-blood bank.
“This training is actually the first one we’ve done this fiscal year,” said Chavez. “We like to travel to these units to make sure we’re always refining the process and doing things the right way.”
During the blood freezing process medical personnel must add glycerin, a syrupy compound used to preserve blood, inserted into blood samples to keep the blood fresh and usable. The process of blood deglycerolization involves removing the glycerin during the thawing process so that the blood can be utilized safely and effectively, providing blood to potential patients across various outstations and the Horn of Africa.
“The reason we have different processes for distributing blood to patients is essentially in line with perfecting the tools in your tool belt,” said Chavez. “Through keeping up with shipments, running the walking blood bank, and refining our frozen blood retrieval processes we’re ensuring that we’re able to get blood to the people who need it as soon as they need it.”
“It was nice having someone who has a ton of practical experience doing this be able to run us through his process which helps us perfect the process and improve conditions here in AFRICOM,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Zoe Horton, CJTF-HOA medical lab specialist.
Horton was joined by other members of the joint force as well as a civilian lab technician from the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti. U.S. Army Maj. Karin Pivaral, CJTF-HOA medical logistics officer in charge, discovered the desire for her shop to undergo more intensive training on deglycerolization equipment and sought out the Sigonella Blood Depot for further assistance.
“For a medical logistics component it is not usual to have laboratory techs or a Blood Distribution Center, but because we are in one of the most geographically challenging theaters for sustainment, we are able to serve as the hub for distributing blood forward to our customers,” said Pivaral.
Pivaral emphasized how this training also helped bring the different medical components located on Camp Lemonnier together to strengthen their working relationships and partnerships with Djiboutian representatives while creating a bridge to the Blood Depot in Sigonella. “Two of our lines of efforts are responding to crises and supporting allies and partners. The training that Sigonella provided increased knowledge for my team, the EMF, and the U.S. Embassy Lab Techs here in Djibouti,” said Pivaral. “Training events like these help improve our capabilities across East Africa which is a big win for all service members if the need ever arises.”