Emergency service personnel in Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary are out for blood.
Police, fire and emergency medical services in the three cities are competing in the Sirens for Life Alberta Challenge 2023 to see who can encourage more people to donate blood to help save lives.
The goal of the Canadian Blood Services campaign in Red Deer is to collect 1,152 blood and plasma donations and bring in 88 new donors throughout the month of January.
“We do our best to drum up support for the donations,” said Curtis Schaefer, assistant deputy chief with Red Deer EMS, about the friendly competition.
“We encourage our staff mainly to donate themselves, plus get friends and family involved, and get them to spread the word to donate on behalf of emergency services.”
He said donating blood is just so critical.
“We see it on a regular basis, unfortunately, the need for blood,” he said speaking about the trauma and medical patients Red Deer fire medics assist.
He said ambulances are not stocked with blood to respond to emergencies, but blood may be on board if hospital patients require it while being transferred to another hospital.
A few years ago Red Deer did manage to finish second in the challenge.
“I thought that was pretty good for a city one-tenth the size,” Schaefer said.
But more importantly, he encouraged people to just get out and donate.
Shamus Neeson, territory manager with Canadian Blood Services, said one in two Canadians are eligible to donate blood, but only one in 81 will actually donate and an event like the Sirens for Life Alberta Challenge can help.
He said the response for blood over the Christmas season was amazing in the Red Deer area and hopefully that will continue in January.
“We do want to thank all the donors who came in over the holidays once they got that call to help us out because it really doesn’t matter if it’s the holidays or not, patients will need that blood every minute of every day,” Neeson said.
Red Deerians and central Albertans can book donation appointments online at blood.ca, on the GiveBlood app, or by calling 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).