First Responders blood drive takes place in Silverdale

Today marked the first-ever Kitsap County First Responders Blood Drive in Silverdale

Today marked the first Kitsap County First Responders Blood Drive kickoff in Silverdale at Kitsap Mall.

A bloodmobile will be at the mall until 6 p.m. today. Donors will “give a pint to get a pint” since Hale’s Alehouse is sponsoring the event. Donors will receive a pint of Hale’s original Pale Ale for their donation.

Members of various police departments came out to donate, including Al Townsend, chief of Poulsbo police department.

“We’re just trying to help out here and bring attention to it,” said Townsend. “There’s a lot of need for blood supply.”

Uniformed officers stepped inside the freezing cold mobile bus–it’s kept that way to keep donors comfortable–and lined up to give their information and detailed health history to blood collection specialists.

“It creates awareness,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. “Blood is the essence of life. There’s a real shortage.”

City of Bremerton Police Chief Steven Strachan came out for his 13th visit to a blood bank. He hadn’t been in two years, but decided to come out specifically for the First Responders event.

“They’re very gentle here,” said Strachan as he was lying down giving blood. “It’ll be good to get back into the habit (of donating).”

When a donor gives their blood, it is separated by red blood cells, plasma and platelets, Erin Gattuccio, blood collections specialist said. Because the bus is mobile, iced boxes are required to keep plasma and red blood cells cold since the main lab is in Renton.

“Platelets cannot be iced,” Gattuccio said.

Although most donors are willing, there are a few who are still leery of the skinny piece of metal being slid under their skin, Gattuccio said.

“They’re still fearful. They get over that,” she said.

But the sight of blood doesn’t bother most who enter through the doors of the bloodmobile, especially volunteer Wendy Ellison.

Ellison is a pre-med student at Washington State University who is looking to study toxicology or osteology once she enters medical school.

“I’m interested in hematology and phlebotomy. Coming here is the best experience I can get,” the 20-year-old said. “I have a very broad interest in the medical field. This is a good way to get experience and see if I like the field. It’s kinda a privilege with the sheriffs here. It’s fun. You get to meet a lot of people.”

The Puget Sound Blood Center hosts about six to eight blood drives weekly, said Meg Hall, donor representative for Puget Sound Blood Center.

“We have to collect over 900 donations each day to serve patients in the 70-plus hospitals and clinics here in Western Washington and to ensure an ample supply of blood in the event of an emergency,” said Hall. “The blood, plasma and platelets that are used daily in local hospitals and clinics, and that is stored for emergencies, comes solely from volunteer donations.”

Hall said she hopes for at least 25 people come out to the event, but any and all donations are appreciated.

“Each donation can help. We hope to make it (First Responders Blood Drive) an annual event,” she said. “These guys put forth an effort every day. It’s nice for the community to come out. It’s just a small way to say thank you for all that they do.”