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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Neil E. Ricoablanc, laboratory technician, Camp Taqaddum Surgical, prepares blood from a donor to be tested. Service members donated blood for an injured Iraqi Policeman who was brought in with severe injuries from an improvised explosive device June 19.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Robert C. Medina

Another Iraqi policeman saved by U.S. service members

20 Jun 2008 | Cpl. Tyler B. Barstow

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (June 20, 2008) - Service members from across Camp Taqaddum rushed to help save a life during a “walking blood bank” here June 19.

The day was coming to an end for most service members when the call for B positive blood came, but for the staff at Camp Taqaddum Surgical, it was just beginning. They rushed about organizing a “walking blood bank” while they stabilized an Iraqi Policeman that was injured by an improvised explosive device.

“We’re here to save life, limb or eyesight,” explained Lt. j.g. Lindsay M. Touchette, a nurse with TQ Surgical, 1st Supply Battalion (-) (Reinforced.) The IP had his right leg and left foot amputated and suffered an injury to his right hand. The surgeons performed damage control to help stabilize the patient and refilled him with the blood he needed before he was shipped out.

This is where the donors came in.

“That’s the guy right there, he’s ready,” said Cpl. Ryan Winkelbauer, an Omaha, Neb., native with Maintenance Co., 1st Supply Bn. (-) (Rein) as he pointed out a throbbing vein on his extended forearm.

Service members from across the base came to resupply the patient’s lost blood. The fresh supply provides the necessary blood particles to handle the situation, without taking from the reserves stored at TQ Surgical.

Rather than providing specific components, such as blood platelets or blood plasma, a transfer of one unit of blood (about a pint) from a donor to the patient is the best for everyone.

“The fresh, whole blood replaces exactly what they need and it’s absolutely paramount in theatre,” explained Navy Capt. Joseph P. Costabile, the acting chief of professional services with TQ Surgical.

With all the moving pieces flowing together, the staff drew seven units of blood and screened nearly 20 applicants.

The corpsmen worked continuously, moving back and forth between drawing blood and checking vital signs. The rush to get the amount they needed and stay organized is nothing new to the staff.

“Out here, it’s like second nature,” explained Petty Officer 3rd Class Duy N. Giang, a corpsman with Shock Trauma Platoon, who assisted with drawing blood to be tested. “We’ve done it so many times, we know what’s needed once we get the call,” said the 25-year-old from Houston.

Sailors, Soldiers and Marines filled the narrow hallway waiting to do their part and give some of their own supply of blood to someone in need.

“I did (give blood) in high school but it means more here,” said Cpl. Taylor C. Kennedy, an Avionics Electrician Technician with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The donation of blood through the “walking blood bank” is of the utmost importance for patients, service members and the staff.

This is the third time this week donors were needed to save the lives of their Iraqi counterparts. Earlier this week, two IPs were injured and relied on the “walking blood bank” provided by TQ Surgical to get the care they needed. With the help of willing donors and the capable staff, they were all stabilized before being transferred for further care.

“We’d be out of our supply right now,” Costabile said. “The walking blood bank saved lives without going through our resources.”


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