'There is a real need for blood': Emergency responders launch blood donation challenge

Emergency service workers in the Region of Waterloo kicked off a friendly competition Friday to see which team can donate the most blood by Labour Day.

The annual Sirens for Life challenge for Canadian Blood Services runs until Sept. 5. Regional and provincial police are taking part, along with corrections officers, paramedics and firefighters.

According to Canadian Blood Services, every 60 seconds someone in the country needs blood. It could take up to 50 donors to help a crash victim and between two to eight donors for someone with internal injuries.

The agency predicts the need for donors will increase through the summer.

"Now, obviously, everybody is out and about so blood donation is not top of mind," said Gina Leyva, a community development coordinator with Canadian Blood Services. "As an organization we are really urging and hoping that Canadians will step up and donate blood."

"Over the summer there is a real need for blood donations, not only because people go on vacation, but there is a higher incidence of trauma-related calls where people and their families may require blood donations,” Richard Hepditch, the fire chief for the City of Waterloo, said.

Const. Lee Elliot with the Waterloo Regional Police Service donated blood for the 16th time on Friday.

"I’ve had some experiences myself where I required some emergency surgeries, so I was receiving blood donations," he said. "I just understand the importance of it."

Const. Elliot said another reason he keeps donating is because he's had family and friends who have also needed emergency blood.

"Just trying to encourage it when I can, and donate whenever I’m able," he said.

"Having Lee being able to speak to his personal experiences, and then share that not only with the members of our service but also the members of our community, is incredibly valuable," said Sgt. Jay MacSween, with the Waterloo Regional Police Service. "He can really speak to it from a personal perspective."

The challenge runs from July 1 to Sept. 5.

Anyone unable to donate blood can make a financial donation or volunteer with Canadian Blood Services.