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News | May 31, 2024

Resolute Sentinel 2024 tests rapid blood transport to Peru

By Senior Airman Courtney Sebastianelli 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Exercise Resolute Sentinel 2024 tested the ability of the U.S. military to rapidly transport blood from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, to Lima, Peru, on May 30, 2024.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to 167th Airlift Wing transported the units, marking the first-time blood was delivered into Peru for exercise Resolute Sentinel, now in its third iteration.

“We know that your chance of survival goes up dramatically if somebody at the point of injury controls bleeding,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Gavitt, Combined Joint Task Force - Resolute Sentinel Surgeon General and 346th Expeditionary Operational Medical Readiness Squadron commander. “You may have seen the ‘Stop the Bleed’ campaign in the United States - that was all born out of our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. The combination of point of injury hemorrhage control, field administration of blood, and rapid evacuation were responsible for 40% of the reduction in mortality we saw over the last 20 years of conflict. Preparing for the future fight means we can’t forget what we learned, and we need to regularly test our ability to perform under pressure.”

From the time the call was placed, it took two hours to get coordinate with the Armed Services Blood Program to get the blood sourced, packed, manifested and loaded onto the aircraft for the eight-hour flight to Lima. The eight units of blood were packed in a cooler with ice to maintain the necessary temperature of one to six degrees Celsius throughout the transport.

Upon arrival, the cooler, also known as a Collins box, was offloaded and transported 90 minutes to a site with pre-arranged coolers specifically designed to maintain the required temperature for storing blood.

“We were able to ensure viability of the blood by transporting the units rapidly within less than 24 hours,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Slaton, 346th EOMRS SEL. “We moved all eight units into mobile temperature-controlled coolers that can maintain viability for the remainder of the exercise. This capability aligns with the Agile Combat Employment concepts by providing life-saving point of injury treatment in any austere environment. “

For RS24, the blood units were then moved from Lima to remote areas of the country, Vitor and Ancon/Salinas, Peru. These areas were sites where U.S., Peruvian, Brazilian, Ecuadorian, French and Colombian military members will perform high-risk joint military training operations. Having co-located medical teams, rapid evacuation capability and blood on-site reduces the risk to mission and personnel.

Military operations are inherently risky, and RS24 exercises the ability of medical personnel to reduce the risk for those who’ve volunteered to serve their country. Testing the ability to deliver blood at the point of injury is a critical capability that could mean the difference between life and death.

“Exercises like this help us ensure that lessons learned are not lessons forgotten,” said Gavitt. “Resolute Sentinel tests the full spectrum of medic interoperability across the Americas, ensuring we can work with our allies to rescue wounded warriors. We owe that to those fighting for the cause of freedom around the world.”