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Operation Pulse Lift

Operation Pulse Lift

Motto: "And the beat goes on."

Background & History

Updated 19 March 2024


SUBJECT:  The U.S. Air Force Auxiliary – Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is chartered by Congress for three programs; Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (ES). The ES program includes Search & Rescue, Drug Interdiction, and Disaster Relief (DR).  One crucial DR operation is blood collection and transport. Known as Operation Pulse Lift (OPL), it was in CAP’s Top 10 Initiatives/Achievements of 2020, 2022 and 2023. It is CAP’s largest mission since World War II and its longest running DR/humanitarian mission in history. In 2024, it received the President of the United States - Volunteer Service Award; and the Headquarters First Air Force - AFNORTH Commander's Award for the Most Meritorious Civil Air Patrol Mission of 2023 – Saving over 105,000 lives!!!

DISCUSSION:  Beginning April 12, 2017, through 2019, CAP stood up OPL, providing facilities and blood support teams (BSTs) and 12 Blood Donor Centers (BDCs); collecting 527 blood unis at two AZ sites. This was the Phase I of the mission - Community Service. It was also active with both emergency and routine air and ground blood transports.

-  On March 17, 2020, at the urging of the U.S. Surgeon General, because the nation had lost 80% of its donor sites due to precautionary COVID closures, OPL mobilized to support CAP’s COVID-19 response. The first BDC under this Phase II (Mobilization & Surge) of the COVID mission began on April 15, 2020 in Glendale, AZ. During the initial nine-month surge response pf 2020, CAP hosted 42 BDCs at seven sites. With donations from members nationwide, OPL collected 1,530 blood units, becoming one of the nation’s largest, temporary blood donation programs. This resulted in two Outstanding Service recognitions from the American Red Cross President/CEO.

- On April 21, 2021, OPL began BDC augmentation and transport support to the Armed Services Blood Program Division (AFBPD) of the Department of Defenses - Defense Health Agency (DHA).  Since then, over 75 multi-day BDCs were supported at Dyess AFB, TX; Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ; Peterson AFB, CO; Joint Base San Antonio; the Air Force Academy; F.E. Warren AFB, WY; Ft Huachuca, AZ;  Ft Carson, CO; Ft Knox, KY.; Joint Base - Elmendorf/Richardson, Ft Wainwright, and Eielson AFB, AK.The blood donated at one event was sent to Washington, D.C., and Germany for returning U.S. casualties from the Kabul Airport suicide bombing.

- On December 11-12, 2021, a major tornado outbreak hit the quad-state region (MO, IL, TN, and KY), resulting in 90 deaths and hundreds injured. At the request of the ARC, OPL surged, and supported the collection of 222 units of blood from members in 31 CAP wings and the national headquarters staff.

- In 2021, CAP quintupled the 2020 effort with 93 BDC events, collecting 7,493 units from 52 wings, at 23 BDC sites, and making 372 trips to transport blood. This blood went to hospitals supporting wild land fires in the Pacific Coast states, hurricanes along the Gulf of Mexico, and a southwest winter storm.

- On September 28, 2022, Category 4 Hurricane Ian hit Florida, causing massive destruction and fatalities. It also generated a 1,000-unit shortfall in the blood supply across the state. CAP responded in 72 hours with 404 units donated by individual members.

- In 2021, (since then in 2022, 2023, and 2024) CAP received ARC's “Premier Blood Partner” status, for its nationwide blood support efforts, while collecting 8,773 units that year at 112 BDC events. By 15 May, 2023, the total COVID collections were at 21,076 units (including emergency transports) potentially saving 63,533 lives and CAP was presented the ARC “Ironman Award.” In September 2023 the mission was recognized by the International Association of Emergency Managers with their annual "2023 Business and Private Sector Integration and Public Sector Partnership Award," recognizing excellence in the integration of public and private Emergency Management partnerships.

- On 11 May 2023 the Phase II (mission mobilization and surge) for the the COVID-19 Presidential Declared Disaster period (13 March 2020 - 11 May  2023) ended with the 300th BDC at Falcon Field, in Mesa, Arizona. This brought the mission into Phase II (Steady State-Community Service), with no drop in the urgency because of the nation-wide shortfall of blood. 

- CAP’s Kansas Wing leads in Emergency/STAT blood transports with 106 in FY23 (99 so far in FY2024), and 389 during the COVID crisis, saving countless lives. The Texas and Arizona Wings have also participated with air and ground transports.  For more information on CAP's blood transport capabilities, go to Operation Pulse Lift - Emergency Blood Transport | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters ( , contact or call (480) 298-2603.  For Emergency Blood Transport Requests, dial (800) 851-3051.

- Throughout the pandemic, there were more than 24,000 public encounters during 335 BDC events, but with stringent adherence to both safety and infectious disease protection protocols, enforced by CAP safety officers, not a single COVID cross-infection of a CAP member occurred. None!

CONCLUSION:  :  Since 2017, CAP’s Presidential award-winning Operation Pulse Lift supported 544 BDC events, at 62 sites, in 25 states/territories; collecting 33,304, blood units; reaffirming itself as the nation’s #1 Volunteer Emergency Management Agency, in 2020 and 2021; and in 2023 as the lead Public - Private Sector Partner, by the International Association of Emergency Managers. With 5,000 members, from every Wing, it has become CAP’s largest and longest Disaster Relief/Humanitarian mission; supporting a half a dozen other disasters nationwide and resulting in over eight-times more lives (105,192) saved, than all the combined missions in CAP’s 82 -Year history. See


For more information, and how to get more involved in Operation Pulse Lift, go to the following links.

- Operation Pulse Lift - Important Contacts: Important Contacts | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

- CAP Blood Donor Center Schedules and Locations:  Operation Pulse Lift - Master Schedule | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

- CAP Support to the Armed Services Blood Program: Operation Pulse Lift - Military Support | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

- How to support American Red Cross "Hometown" Blood Program: Operation Pulse Lift - "Hometown" Blood Collection Centers"Hometown'" Blood Collection Centers | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

- Operation Pulse Lift - "In the News:" Operation Pulse Lift - News | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

- Operation Pulse Lift - Briefings: Operation Pulse Lift - Briefings | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

- Operation Pulse Lift - Planning Documents: Operation Pulse Lift - Planning Documents | Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters (

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