Among the chaos that shook Roseburg one year ago today was also an outpouring of support. Community members expressed their encouragement in a variety of ways, with one of those being blood donations.
There was enough blood on the shelves for the American Red Cross to sustain the need after the tragedy, “but of course, those units needed to be replaced,” said Patti McCollum, account manager with American Red Cross.
To ensure the blood levels were met and that enough was put back on the shelves, the donation center stayed open for several 12-hour days to accommodate the influx of donors, quite a change from its usual twice-a-week schedule.
“We did very, very long days; we were just inundated with everyone wanting to come in,” McCollum said. “The community was in need of healing, and I think this is a way for people to feel … that they were doing something.”
But even the extended hours weren’t enough to collect blood from all of those attempting to donate in the days after the tragedy.
“We were taking names and phone numbers, and we scheduled people throughout the rest of the month at other mobile drives,” McCollum said.
But when it comes to blood collection, McCollum said, American Red Cross doesn’t want to collect it all at once. Blood can only be stored for up to 42 days before it expires.
“It’s kind of a balance, making sure there’s enough on the shelf for when it’s needed, but you don’t want to collect too much at one time,” McCollum said. “The whole point of spacing it out is to keep a consistent supply available at all times.”
Instead, Natividad Lewis, the external communications manager with American Red Cross, said people can and should donate as often as possible. Whole blood can be donated every 56 days and double red cells every 112 days. Two other types of donations, platelets and plasma donations, are also among the options.
When it comes to preparing for such accidents and crises as the UCC shooting, Lewis said that people must realize that “the blood that’s available during an emergency, is available before the emergency.”
But looking back at the chaos of Oct. 1 2015, McCollum said she is proud of the crew and the community for the way they handled the situation and united for a common cause.
“We were all just shocked, and it was a tragedy, but everyone came together,” McCollum said. “I think it really heightened everyone’s sense of community…and to heal as best we can. It was very impressive to see how the community came together.”
The Roseburg American Red Cross Blood Donation Center is located at 1176 N.W. Garden Valley Blvd. and is open from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Fridays. You can schedule an appointment online or call 800-733-2767.