DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The American Red Cross said in a press release earlier this week that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the national blood supply is critically low, saying, “In fact, the current blood supply is the lowest the Red Cross has seen this time of year in more than a decade.”

The shortage however, is affecting more than just the civilian population. To help make up for their low blood supply, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is holding a blood drive at the National Museum of the United States Air Force that will be available for public participation.

“We’re always trying to increase our blood supply,” said Master Sergeant Nathan Butcher. “Especially since the pandemic, people aren’t going out as much and donating. They’re staying home more often. So it has been a struggle trying to get donors and to donate.”

To help replenish the dwindling supply, military personnel is asking community members to give their blood, especially type O, to those who devote their lives to fighting for the country. But Butcher said it’s especially important for community members to donate at Friday’s drive because they are one of only three Air Force donor centers in the country that can collect and distribute blood products, for which there is no substitute.

“Any blood products collected through the Armed Services Blood program gets sent downrange to help the war fighters,” said Butcher. “It also gets sent throughout the United States to our medical treatment facilities for our veterans and their families.”

The blood, he said, helps preserve the lives of wounded warriors, those struggling with chronic illnesses, and those going through surgeries and other medical treatments.

Donors will need to present a valid, government-issued ID and will be unable to donate if they have given blood within the last 56 days, or if they have had COVID symptoms within the last 14 days. 

“We’ll take their vitals, make sure they’re healthy and eligible to donate,” said Butcher. “Then they’ll go through some questions on a computer to see their history. And then if they’re eligible, they provide their donation. It takes anywhere from five to 15 minutes, and then they get a nice t-shirt. 

Staff at WPAFB gives non-military personnel five opportunities to donate blood at off-base drives each year. Friday’s donation event will be held at the National Museum of the United States Air Force from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Butcher said community members can sign up to donate upon arrival or register at militarydonor.com.