Cops, firies, ambos step up as winter flu hits blood stocks
EMERGENCY services have joined together in a Red Cross challenge to try and boost local blood supplies and meet the high demand.
The challenge has seen local fire, police and ambulance services taking part to see which department can donate the most blood.
NSW Police Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Nicole Bruce said it was part of their duty to serve the community.
"It helps save lives and it's the basis of our duty," she said.
"We come across people in accidents where the difference between life and death is the blood they get."
Insp Bruce said the recent shark attacks were a perfect example of why donating blood was so important.
"The latest one (shark attack victim) was able to be saved because blood was onboard the helicopter and he could be given that blood transfusion straight away," she said.
Australian Red Cross Blood Service community relations officer Marlene de Kock said new donors were needed to counter low numbers due to cold and flu.
"There is a decline in blood and blood products due to cold and flu," she said.
"The emergency services challenge is a great way of helping us get more donors in a time when they are really needed."
Last year NSW Police won the challenge for the state while the Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue took second and third place respectively.
Lismore Fire and Rescue station officer Ian Grimwood said the competition was a bit of fun but it wasn't why emergency services teamed up.
"It's a good encouragement, but the end result is to get as much blood available for people who need it," Mr Grimwood said.
The challenge is nationwide but on the Northern Rivers, 64 emergency services workers took part last year.
"One in three Australians will need blood in their lifetime, so we really encourage people to roll up their sleeves," Ms de Kock said.
Currently one in 30 Australians are blood donors.
This week is National Blood Donor Week and its aim is to get people donating at a time of year where blood supply is at its lowest.
Ms De Kock said it takes one hour to give blood from the time of arrival until the time you leave.
You must be between 16 and 70 years old and free of any sickness to donate.
The Red Cross Blood Service donor centre is located on Bounty St in Lismore but there are also mobile centres around the Northern Rivers.
To find out more contact 13 14 95 or book online at http://www.donateblood.com.au.