HQ Northern Command rises to the Challenge

Published on LEUT Andrew Ragless (author)

Location(s): Casurina, NT

Topic(s): Defence Blood Challenge, Australian Red Cross Blood Service

(L-R) LCPL Kylie Pezdirc; WOFF Andrew McCabe; LSCIS Michelle Lakin; Sam of the Red Cross Blood Service – Casuarina; and AIRCDRE Ken Watson. (photo: )
(L-R) LCPL Kylie Pezdirc; WOFF Andrew McCabe; LSCIS Michelle Lakin; Sam of the Red Cross Blood Service – Casuarina; and AIRCDRE Ken Watson.

A bloody battle has ensued at the Joint Task Force Headquarters Northern Command in Darwin with Navy, Army and Air Force personnel striving to achieve the largest donation in the fifth annual Defence Blood Challenge.

On hump day of the three month challenge, five members - including the Commander Northern Command, Air Commodore Ken Watson - “took up arms” and rolled their sleeves up to go head to head in filling the first 470ml bag of life-saving blood.

Darwin's Red Cross Blood Service spokesperson Ernie Rondot said it was encouraging to witness the enthusiasm and generosity by Top End Defence personnel in giving blood.

“Nevertheless one in three Australians will need blood in their lifetime and yet only one in 30 Australians donate blood,” Mr Rondot said.

“The chances are if you don't need it yourself, then a member of your family or a close friend will need it.

“And for those in the military, deployed on operations, this need might be even more pertinent,” he said.

Air Commodore Ken Watson said the joint staff at Northern Command - approximately half Navy and a quarter each from Army and Air Force - represented a microcosm of the ADF, and during the challenge, values such as dedication, commitment, and compassion were on display.

“And courage!” he said.

“I don't think any of us enjoy getting a needle in the arm and bleeding out, but the need is great, and we can all be certain that when we give blood, we are really making a difference to somebody else's life, perhaps even saving one.

“And that makes it really worthwhile,” he added.

A single blood donation, when separated into its components, can help at least three different patients and contribute to making up to 22 different blood products. Red cells can last 42 days and plasma donations have a shelf life of up to 12 months.

Mr Rondot said that the demand for blood is constant and because of this we're always in need of donors and the demand for plasmas is increasing.

“With that in mind, people can donate every 12 weeks, or for plasma as often as every two weeks,” he said.

“That's all we ask for - just four hours a year.

“I think most of us would make that time for a cocktail on a Friday or a round of golf on the weekend.

“So why not put that time into saving somebody's life.”

More information on the Defence Blood Challenge can be found at http://www.donateblood.com.au/defence. Be sure to ring 13 14 95 to make an appointment and check that you're eligible to donate.

Commander Northern Command, AIRCDRE Ken Watson donates plasma on the left, while LSCIC Michelle Lakin donates red blood cells on the right, at the Red Cross Blood Service, Casuarina, NT.

Commander Northern Command, AIRCDRE Ken Watson donates plasma on the left, while LSCIC Michelle Lakin donates red blood cells on the right, at the Red Cross Blood Service, Casuarina, NT.