They are being called unsung heroes. Gwen Blatz who heads EMS operations for Southern Health says it is often blood donors, not emergency service workers that are the true heroes following an accident.
Canadian Blood Services is set to launch Sirens For Life. This is a friendly competition that runs in July and August in rural Manitoba. The goal is to see which of the three emergency service teams can produce the highest number of donors: Steinbach Fire Department, Steinbach RCMP or EMS.
Steve Raizen is Territory Manager for Canadian Blood Services. He says the goal for Sirens For Life is to collect 150 units of blood and recruit 25 new donors.
"That's really a small percentage of the actual donations that we need," states Raizen.
He says about one thousand donations are required weekly in Manitoba just to meet hospital demand.
"One hundred fifty donations will move the needle a little bit but certainly not enough," he adds.
Steinbach Fire Chief Kel Toews says firefighters see firsthand the need for blood. He says just one person who is seriously injured in a car crash could need as many as 50 blood donations to help save their life.
"To put that into perspective, if we go to an accident, and somebody is seriously hurt, if everyone in the fire department gave blood, it may not be enough for that individual to be saved," Toews points out.
Toews says donating blood is encouraged within the hall and a habit that many of his firefighters practice.
One-year-old Ezekiel Hunt of Steinbach joined local emergency service workers at the official Sirens For Life kickoff. His mother Bianka says 'Zeke' is alive today thanks in large part to the generous donations of strangers.
Zeke was born with a genetic mutation called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. His mother says he did not have a functioning immune system when he entered the world and developed a lot of infections in the first few months of his life. For three and a half months, Zeke was given blood transfusions almost daily. Hunt says today her boy is doing great.
Hunt says before Zeke was born, she always said she was too busy to donate blood. But, that has all changed.
"I go as often as I can," says Hunt. "I even try to convince them that I should be able to go more often but they don't let that."
Hunt says every single day that Zeke was given a blood transfusion, she wondered who donated that blood, how much of their time did they give up and what did that person have to do just to qualify.
"I definitely would tell people, it is only that little bit of time for you to save someone else's angel like mine," says Hunt.
"Seeing young Ezekiel here who is alive because of a blood donation, I think really brings it home for I'm sure not just myself but all of us," says Steinbach RCMP Staff Sergeant Harold Laninga.