Employees of GasSearch Drilling Services (GDS) in Lenox Township quickly filled out a five-hour schedule to donate blood on May 26 as part of the company’s community outreach program. The first-time event was coordinated by GDS night shift trucking foreman Bob Bennie and Megan Jakaitis, an account manager for the American Red Cross in the Binghamton area. 

“We put the news out to everyone, and, in pretty quick order, we were approaching a full house,” Bennie said of the 27 available time slots. A few cancellations in the days leading up to the blood drive were also filled promptly.

Jakaitis and a Red Cross booking manager visited GDS about a month prior to assess the space available to them. While face masks are not currently required at blood drives, the Red Cross continues to follow CDC guidelines on distancing for COVID safety.

“We cleaned the room out, and these girls moved in here like a military unit and had everything ready in minutes,” said Bennie, who is a regular blood and platelet donor.

After an initial check-in in the hallway, donors were led to table where a team of four staff members gathered additional information from them to ensure that they qualified and were healthy enough to give blood. From there, they moved to one of five stations for the actual draw.

Trucking superintendent Rob Wagner was the first in line. It was his first time donating in a couple of years but part of a longstanding family tradition. His O-Positive blood is the most common type and, though it is not universal, it can be given to any people with a positive blood type.

GDS logistics coordinator Sam Poff was next. She too was about two years out from her last donation but said that she hopes to start giving blood again more frequently. “It’s important to be able to help,” Poff remarked. “If I’m able to, I think I should.”

Bennie explained that the blood drive and the road cleanup that preceded it in April are part of renewed effort to engage employees of GDS and parent company Coterra Energy with the community. He expressed pride in his fellow employees for embracing the initiative. “The Red Cross will leave here with 27 units of blood, and that is impactful,” he stated.

Jakaitis agreed, crediting Bennie for his enthusiasm and being on hand to help ensure that everything ran smoothly. Each unit (pint) of blood, she noted, has the potential to save three lives. “It means a lot to us when a company like this asks us to do a blood drive,” said Jakaitis. “We’re going to do another blood drive in the fall because this was so successful.”

The American Red Cross, Southern Tier Chapter serves numerous counties in New York state and Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania.