Give blood, don’t spill it.
That was the message from more than a dozen men and women on the first response frontlines, who would love to see a long weekend unmarred by the all-too-often mayhem.
Last year, four people had lost their lives on Alberta roads before Saturday had ended.
Red Deer RCMP Supt. Ken Foster was among those who rolled up their sleeves to give blood at the local blood donor clinic on Friday. Half a dozen Mounties, were joined by firefighters from Red Deer County and Red Deer Emergency Services to give blood.
Besides promoting the importance of blood donations, the event was used to encourage weekend travellers to buckle up, slow down and drive safely.
“We know that historically summer is the time when there are more and more collisions (and) certainly on the May long weekend,” said Foster.
“People are in a hurry — I get it. I understand you want to get that campsite or get to wherever you are going this weekend.
But there is a lot of traffic on the road on the long weekend. Take it easy and enjoy the journey. It’s not all about getting there,” he said.
It’s also a time when weekend warriors head to the province’s great outdoors to undertake higher-risk activities such as quadding and boating.
“If you’re going out of bounds and you’re going to go motorcycling, ATVing or boating leave the beer in the cooler until you get back to the camp,” he said. “That is sometimes a big contributing factor.
And don’t forget to grab a helmet, he said. As of May 15, it is illegal in Alberta to ride an off-highway vehicle on public land without a helmet.
Samantha Makey is a second-generation firefighter and learned very quickly how important donated blood supplies are to people.
The first time she donated blood she put up a picture on Instagram.
“This one girl, who lived in Kelowna, she had to have blood transfusions every month and she saw that I donated blood and said, ‘Thank you for donating blood. You probably saved my life.’
“If you can, donate. It helps everybody,” she said.
Shaun Richer, Canadian Blood Services territory manager, said besides the safety message the event also reminds people to consider putting blood donation into their long weekend plans.
“The need is always constant. It’s always there. We’re always looking for new donors.”