Brothers, Sisters in Arms. Police, fire, EMS roll up sleeves to give much needed blood

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PITTSFIELD >> Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel are rolling up sleeves and extending arms this summer to save lives.

Since July 4, the public safety community has been frequenting bloodmobile stops throughout the county as part of the inaugural Heroes Blood Drive sponsored by Berkshire Health Systems. BHS donor program liaison Chris Amuso says the goal is 500 units by Sept. 11, a mark she expects will be easily surpassed as the campaign has already passed the half-way mark.

Since 9/11 nearly 15 years ago, one-day blood drives have been held around the country to honor the first responders who died as a result of the terrorist attacks.

Given that blood donations drastically fall off in July and August, BHS officials felt, through friendly competition among the police, fire and ambulance services, a 10-week effort was needed to boost blood supplies.

As of Aug.2, BHS has already collected 289 units at 19 bloodmobile events and the BHS donor center at Berkshire Medical Center, compared to the 200 collected voer the same four-week period last year.

"A lot of people are showing up at our normal sites," Amuso said. "There is a buzz about this and it only takes a half an hour of your time."

The Heroes Blood Drive recently made a stop at LP Adams Co. in Dalton where Police Chief Jeffrey Coe and several of his officers gave the priceless gift of life.

"It's easy to write a check to an organization, but this is a unique way for police to give back to the community," Coe said.

The chief hopes this sparks more regular donations by all who participate.

"The [BHS] staff is so professional and so welcoming, I appreciate the service they provide," he said. "I now have a donor card and want to do it more often."

While the majority of blood drives are conducted from 9 a. m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, BHS blood donor staff are willing to alter the times that are most convenient for the host site. Amuso noted next Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m., the bloodmobile will set up at North Adams Downtown Celebration.

A list of the August bloodmobile stops can be found at www.berkshirehealthsystems.org/bloodmobile. Walk-ins are welcome, but a scheduled appointment is strongly suggested by calling 413-447-2597 or by email at camuso@bhs1.org.

Amuso noted that all the blood collected stays within the county and Type O negative is most needed.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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