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September is National Preparedness Month – and for good reason. As we see the impacts of hurricane season, wildfires burning in the West, and await the approach of winter weather, we know that part of our community preparedness requires ensuring a safe and ample blood supply to support patients relying on transfusions. 

When natural disasters strike, blood donors become the second line of defense – first responders attend to the immediate needs of those affected, and your blood drives assure that blood is ready and waiting for hospital patients. 

However, those same natural disasters can cause blood collection in affected areas to shut down for days or even weeks to ensure the safety of donors and staff. Because while businesses shut down and people take shelter, emergency medical needs do not end. In fact, hospitals can see an increase in the need for blood based on the emergency at hand. 

To ensure no patient goes without, Vitalant works to increase donations in unaffected regions or where it’s safe for donors to give. 

As a blood drive coordinator, you can play a key role in preparing and responding to these emergencies – even between blood drives – by taking one of the following actions: 

  1. Be an advocate! Just because you don’t have a blood drive coming up doesn’t mean you can’t ask your friends, family and coworkers to donate blood at a drive or donation center convenient to them. Remember, the number one reason people give blood is because they were asked. Your voice has power. 

  1. Schedule an extra blood drive. If you don’t already host the maximum of six blood drives during the year, there’s a good chance we can fit another blood drive onto your schedule without impacting donor eligibility. If you’re willing, ask your donor recruitment representative if they can calculate the best time frame for you to squeeze in an extra drive. 

  1. Consider a virtual blood drive. Virtual blood drives can be either in tandem with an on-site blood drive or it can stand on its own. Virtual blood drives, where recruiting is done 100% in an online environment, provide coordinators with an opportunity to expand their reach beyond the geographic footprint of their on-site blood drive to a national audience and adds convenience for donors who might not be able to participate in the on-site drive. Remember, with a virtual blood drive your donors can donate at any Vitalant location in the country and their donation is tracked to your drive. Learn more at virtual-blood-drive.  

Article published for the Vital Connections newsletter.