Blood transfusions saved Red Deer firefighter Tyler Pelke’s life following a terrifying attack when he was 14.
Pelke was viciously assaulted and a friend was killed in the attack in southern Manitoba. Pelke’s throat was slashed and he suffered third-degree burns on 25 per cent of his body when his assailant set fire to the home they were in.
He was willing to share the story to promote the Sirens for Life campaign, which kicked off Friday, with Red Deer fire-medics and RCMP officers engaging in a friendly rivalry to see who can donate the most blood.
“It was a pretty traumatic event way back when, and it resulted in multiple transfusions for me at the time.
“My heart had stopped,” said the deputy chief with Red Deer Emergency Services.
The blood from donors was critical to keeping him alive then and he has returned the favour many times since by donating blood.
Fire Chief Ken McMullen said as first responders, they are frequently at incidents where donated blood will be needed.
“To be on (the) other side of that, to be able to donate blood in a fun environment, we really benefit from that in the end.”
With a first responder boost, it’s hoped that the Sirens for Life campaign will reach its goal of collecting 1,190 units of blood and 170 new donors.
“They’re willing to donate themselves, and they’re encouraging the public to donate as well,” said Nicole Russell, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services.
She said blood donations tend to slow down in August as many people head out on holidays.
“Summertime is a really difficult time for the blood system,” she said.
“But the need (for blood) is constant, so we need people in our donor system to keep up with demand.”
There are about 900 donation slots open in August. It typically takes about 40 minutes from screening to donation.
The Canadian Blood Services donation centre is located at 5020 68 St.
To make an appointment, call 1-888-2DONATE (236-6283) or go to www.blood.ca.