Salem police, firefighters rush to collect blood

Red Cross volunteers Ann Hanus and Karen Craven pass out supplies outside of Gates on Sunday, September 20. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem’s Red Cross is out for blood and it has recruited Salem police and fire personnel to help. 

Battle of the Badges, the first blood drive of its kind in Salem, is scheduled for August 10 and 11. It will focus on increasing the local blood supply hit by traditional summer lows and a wave of need prompted by Covid.

“About 20% of our donor base is high school kids,” said Patti McCollum, account manager for the Salem-area Red Cross. “In the summer high schools are closed and even our most devoted donors who come in regularly are on vacation in the summer or have family coming in or they’re working on their houses and projects and they don’t make it in during the summer.”

The traditional lull in donation has collided with the effects of people putting off medical care during the pandemic, which means they’re now seeking treatment and care that require blood donations. Additionally, more folks are out and about in the summer getting in situations that require medical care and blood.

“Things like accidents and cancer don’t take a vacation,” McCollumn said. 

The Battle of the Badges is a way to stir up donors, Red Cross spokesperson Chad Carter said. 

“There’s a blood shortage nationwide right now and O is the most common blood type. We’re hoping to encourage people with O blood to come down,” he said. “Blood has a shelf life and we want to make sure when people need it, it’s there.” 

The Salem Fire Department and the Salem Police Department are recruiting staff currently. When members of the public make an appointment to donate, they’ll be given an exclusive T-shirt and asked to vote for their favorite of the two first responding agencies. 

The winner will get bragging rights and a traveling plaque that will bear the name of the winner each year in what the Red Cross hopes becomes an annual event.

“We hope that we fill it up eventually and need to get a new plaque,” said McCollum. 

The blood drive will be held at the Salem Police Department in the community room located at 333 Division St. N.E. Appointments are available at redcrossblood.org on August 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. and on August 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make an appointment, search sponsor code “battleofbadges.” 

Those wishing to make an appointment can also call 1-800-REDCROSS. 

Walk-ins are permitted, McCollum said, but those with appointments will be served first. 

Contact reporter Caitlyn May at [email protected].

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