The annual Sirens For Life program has launched for another season in Steinbach. Through the program, emergency service workers in Steinbach will encourage the public and other first responders to become blood donors this summer.
Brett Lawrence is Community Development Manager for Canadian Blood Services. He notes this program will run from July to August. Lawrence says they choose the summer months because it seems that is when more people are travelling, which means that is when the likelihood of vehicle collisions goes up and the need for blood intensifies. He notes they choose emergency personnel for this program because of their experience in situations where blood is needed.
Steinbach RCMP Sergeant Joanne Ryll attended Monday's launch of the program.
"It's important I guess because we attend a lot of accidents where obviously there is a need for blood," she explains. "And we see firsthand the necessity, so that's why we partake."
Steinbach Fire Chief Kel Toews says he believes that when his firefighters witness the need for blood at a collision scene, this prompts them to donate.
"Oh certainly, they see that there is a need," notes Toews. "We go to some pretty bad accidents and I'm sure that does nudge them towards giving blood."
In fact, Toews says for the past four years, his fire hall has had a friendly competition where a trophy is awarded to the squad that donates the most blood.
According to Lawrence, Canadian Blood Services collects about 96 units of blood at a single blood donor clinic in Steinbach. To put that into perspective, he notes a single victim in a vehicle collision could require up to 50 units of blood. That means 50 different people need to donate blood. Lawrence says there is a great need for blood in summer, not only because of all the crashes but also because regular donors are often out of town and unable to give.
Having said that, Lawrence notes Steinbach is an extremely generous community. He notes Steinbach donates as much blood in one month as the city of Brandon, yet Brandon's population is nearly three times that of Steinbach.
Steinbach's blood donor clinics are now booked solid until August. Lawrence says in August they have a clinic on the 1st at Steinbach Mennonite Church and then another clinic on the 15th at Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Church.
Lawrence says each year Canadian Blood Services needs 100,000 new donors. He notes over the last few years they are down about 31,000 of their regular donors as the result of the pandemic and people not donating as much blood.