Firefighters are in the business of saving lives, ranging from dragging people out of a burning building during a fire, responding to a car accident or, more indirectly, collecting blood to be utilized in emergency situations.
This Wednesday, Feb. 29, the Mamaro Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 will be holding their second annual blood drive at the 146 Palmer Ave. location from 3-8 p.m. to benefit the American Red Cross.
Although it was only their first year holding the drive, the department received a total of 77 pints of blood for donation in 2011, with even more potential donors showing up then could be accommodated right away.
“The turnout was outstanding,” said Firefighter Dan Betker, continuing, “There were well over 100 people—a lot couldn’t wait.”
Although Betker urges people to make an appointment in advance in order to minimize wait time, walk-ins are also welcome. The entire process—from the initial screening to the waiting period after donation—takes approximately 40-50 minutes.
“People who do it more often can speed up the process,” he said, referring to the recovery period after donation that may be longer for those who have never given blood before.
In addition to regular donations, the department will also be doing double red count donations, or apheresis, in which a special machine separates red blood cells, returning the plasma and platelets back to the recipient. Aphersis counts as two donations, however, is a bit more invasive than the traditional method of donation, said Betker.
Of particular need this year, according to the American Red Cross, are donors with Type O blood. Less than half—48 percent—of the population are born with this blood type, which can be used universally, particularly in trauma situations where doctors may not be able to assess a patient’s blood.
Starting next year, the fire department may also expand their donation day to include bone marrow screening via cheek swab, said Betker, citing the case of a New York City fireman who saved someone's life by giving his bone marrow.