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First Responder Spotlight: Ashwini Mokashi Keeps the Blood Flowing

Despite the pandemic, the all-volunteer Montgomery Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) sponsored six blood drives in five months, thanks in large part to Ashwini Mokashi.

Ashwini Mokashi

“We collected a total of 158 units of blood, which could save 474 lives,” says MEMS Sergent Ron Gerschel. “I am extremely proud of our organization for being able to have such a tremendous impact on so many people beyond the borders of Montgomery despite such difficult times. Ashwini made this possible.”


Gerschel also thanks The Montgomery News, township officials, and, of course, the donors, who also made it possible.


Considering the extreme strain on the nation’s hospital networks, blood banks are desperately looking for blood donors. Simultaneously, indoor gatherings’ restrictions required scheduled blood drives to be canceled, including the Montgomery EMS March drive.


As COVID cases and hospitalizations increased, the blood-stock in the hospitals dwindled, Gerschel said. Mokashi took on this challenge with aplomb and conquered it, organizing some of Montgomery’s most successful blood drives — despite the pandemic.


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Mokashi simply says she got advice from her scientist husband about making blood drives safe for everyone. She then talked to Vitalant, the vendor that performs the Montgomery blood drives, and discussed plans with the MEMS executive committee. She also made a case to local newspapers, and then started organizing the blood-drives.


The response from Montgomery Township residents was tremendous. The drives were “sold out” a week in advance, and people would beg to get in on the list, Gerschel says.


Montgomery EMS was lucky to have been able to work with the Princeton Elks to host some of the drives, to take advantage of their extensive space. “Everyone felt good about doing something meaningful for the community,” he said.


Thanks to Mokashi, community members were able to safely donate blood during an especially needy time. The stories are heartwarming.

► One Montgomery man donated blood as a gift on his 50th wedding anniversary.


► A 72-year-old woman who hadn’t stepped out of the house for months, donated for the first time — signifying how important it is to give blood now.

Mokashi began volunteering at MEMS in April 2018. Within a month, she was organizing the blood drives. She also looks after the program of loaning medical equipment (wheelchairs and such) to residents who have a short-term need.


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For a time, Mokashi also trained to be an ambulance driver. Even though she finally discontinued it, she says her driving skills improved to the point that her kids noticed, and they were surprised at how well she drove after four months in the program.


Fun apart, the emergency calls she took during that time taught her life lessons.


“Every call was an education on how people react in critical times, how they got into the crisis, and how helpless people can feel,” Mokashi said.


She says she realized her doctorate thesis in philosophy helped her to understand the practicality of philosophy — specifically how one can obtain happiness through perspective and positive thinking.


Her book, Sapiens and Sthitaprajna, was published in 2019. Her volunteer work with MEMS inspired her to start a business in 2020 called “Philosophy and Happiness,” where she coaches or counsels individuals philosophically.


She also is available for speaking engagements on philosophy. She plans to start philosophical workshops for young people and to advise organizations on how to streamline their ethical concerns.


In short, the EMS work goes hand-in-hand with her philosophical beliefs. She says she is grateful she gets the opportunity to help the community along with all her wonderful colleagues at Montgomery EMS. ■

Visit her website at: ashwinimokashi.com.

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