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National Blood Donor Month
Medic to Donor—One Mission to Save Lives
By Lori A. Kuczmanski, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Bliss, Texas
Spc. Aaron Kamiaz, assigned to Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., watches as phlebotomist Staff Sgt. Angela Gehers applies the tourniquet to Kamiaz’s arm in preparation to donate blood. As a medic, Kamiaz has seen the need for blood and is giving back during the monthly blood drive at Fort Huachuca.
The lives of millions of Haitians were forever changed Jan. 12, 2010, as the strongest earthquake rocked the country since 1770. As medical personnel and relief workers arrived to help the nearly 200,000 Haitians in need, one medic reminisces of his efforts to help the grief stricken country.
Assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., on a Global Response Force team, Spc. Aaron Kamiaz deployed with his platoon of soldiers to render aid to those in need within days of the initial earthquake.
Making tents out of sheets, Kamiaz said his team used pool chairs as patient chairs and treated anything from serious lacerations to crush wounds and partial amputations and delivering babies.
The next day, part of the platoon moved out on foot patrol looking for locals who needed medical treatment that couldn’t come to them.
During Kamiazs’ six month deployment to Haiti, he and his team delivered more than 10 babies in less than perfect conditions.
Kamiaz recalls a woman who had just given birth and was severely bleeding. Not able to stabilize the woman enough to transport her via ground support, she received blood products while awaiting air support.
“The blood was more of a stopping measure,” said Kamiaz. “If we couldn’t get the bleeding to stop, she would have died unless she had the blood transfused.”
Kamiaz said the situation put a lot of pressure on the medics to stabilize the patient and to do whatever it took to save a life.
Returning to his medic duties at Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Kamiaz served as the medic at the monthly Fort Huachuca blood drive.
After fulfilling his duties as medic, Kamiaz changed roles to blood donor.
Seeing firsthand the lifesaving capability of blood, Kamiaz said he knows as a medic and a member of the armed forces donating blood saves lives whether close or deployed far away.
“I think it’s a great thing to do,” said Kamiaz.
Because Fort Huachuca is home to the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence School, hosting a blood drive at the location makes perfect sense.
“Because the advanced individual trainees have not yet deployed, it is a good opportunity for [them] to donate blood to the Armed Services Blood Program,” said Kamiaz.
Kamiaz said it’s great to collect blood at a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command post because of the large audience.
“While they are not deployed, they are helping in the care to service members overseas,” said Kamiaz. “It gives the Armed Services Blood Program a better chance to get blood from qualified donors.”
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