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Harsh winter fuels need for Red Cross services

North Central

March 3, 2014
 

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, Minn. — The American Red Cross has been helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies for more than 130 years. This winter, the Red Cross has experienced an increase in the need for local disaster services and blood donations due in large part to severe winter weather that has affected most of the nation.

March is national American Red Cross Month, a great time to celebrate and recognize everyday heroes in the community – those who help their neighbors by giving blood, learning lifesaving skills, volunteering or making a financial contribution to the Red Cross.

So far this year the need has been great. For example, the Northern Minnesota Red Cross region has seen a 38 percent increase in the number of fire disaster responses from the same January and February timeframe last year. Red Cross disaster relief workers have worked around the clock, responding to 84 disasters, helping 328 people from across the region, which spans from the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area to the Canadian border.  

“Our heroes are our volunteers, who help with disaster relief, people who take our classes or those who make a financial contribution to help us help others here in Minnesota,” said Phil Hansen, Regional Executive Director of the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. “During Red Cross Month, we thank them and encourage everyone to discover their inner hero by giving time to help people in our community.”

The need to build strong and resilient communities across our region and state continues. Trained volunteers need to be ready to respond before disasters happen. Individuals need to be trained in C.P.R. and first aid before emergencies happen.

“Red Cross Month is an ideal time for people to become part of the Red Cross,” said Hansen. “They can become a Red Cross volunteer in humanitarian services, work on a preparedness plan for their household, give blood or take a Red Cross class to learn lifesaving skills.”

On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day. More than 1,500 Red Cross blood drives across 34 states and the District of Columbia were forced to cancel in January and February, resulting in more than 50,000 canceled donations. As a result, the need remains great.

“Blood and platelet donors across Minnesota are everyday heroes who help save lives. They helped stock, and re-stock, our blood supply shelves when severe winter weather struck and forced the cancellation of thousands of blood drives,” said Geoff Kaufmann, CEO of the North Central Blood Services Region. “I’d like to thank the donors, as well as the Red Cross collections and support staff for being everyday heroes during these weather conditions. With their help we were able to ensure patients received the blood they needed when they needed it.”

Donors of all blood types continue to be needed. Eligible donors with Rh negative blood types are encouraged to give double red cells where available. Type O negative is universal and can likely be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to patients with either Rh positive or negative blood.

The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its important humanitarian work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar given to the Red Cross is invested in helping people in need. Go to redcross.org and support the Red Cross.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

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