GROTON, Conn. – Even in a pandemic, emergencies don’t stop and neither does the need for blood. Blood donors at Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) answered the call, contributing 44 units of blood to the American Red Cross, in a base-wide Blood Drive, May 8.

More than 50 SUBASE Sailors, civilians, and family members made the drive possible by donating or facilitating the event, and their contribution will help save up to 132 lives according to Red Cross officials.

“Any turnout is a good turnout right now,” said Jennifer Gartsu, account manager, for Red Cross Blood Services in Connecticut. “Every donation can save up to three lives.”

Thousands of people need life-saving blood every day, noted Gartsu. In the early weeks of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many Blood Drives were cancelled; so now, the Red Cross is urgently asking healthy, eligible people to give blood or platelets to prevent shortages.

SUBASE and its cohort of healthy and eligible personnel was a perfect donor audience according to Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Austin Keenlance, a member of the Base Consolidated Telecommunications (BCT) division. Keenlance led coordination of the Blood Drive with volunteers and supporting activities ranging from other BCT members to the Chaplains Center.

“People who donate blood are making such a difference for those who need it,” said Keenlance. “I was honored to be the coordinator, keeping in touch with the Red Cross, getting volunteers, encouraging people to participate, and making sure things ran smoothly.”

A key element to the drive’s smooth operation was the effort by Keenlance, Gartsu, and volunteers from SUBASE and the Red Cross to ensure all necessary COVID-19 precautions and protocols were in place for the safety and well-being of donors.

Donation stations were at least six-feet apart. Advance scheduling helped reduce any crowding. Facial-coverings for all participating were required, and hand-sanitation was abundantly available.

“I understand people being cautious, so we ensured every possible donor concern was addressed,” said Keenlance. “I’m so happy with the turnout because saving a life means more than anything right now.”

To learn more about becoming a blood donor visit the American Red Cross website at

“Some SUBASE Good News” (SSGN) is an effort to provide uplifting stories about the personnel, programs, and initiatives that help make Naval Submarine Base New London, “The First and Finest.”

Connecticut Media Group