Blood has been spilled between St Marys and Penrith Local Area Commands as they battle it out in the 2017 Emergency Services Blood Challenge.
The life saving blood drive aims to help combat the traditional drop-off in blood donor numbers each winter while, at the same time, challenging groups to vie for the highest blood count.
St Marys commander Superintendent Greg Peters said the drive was slow initially but has ramped up in recent years.
“It’s become quite healthy, especially with commanders,” he laughed.
“When they got this going, I had been doing plasma, when the commanders realised they could get more donations with plasma than whole blood, they changed to plasma.”
Penrith commander Superintendent Brett McFadden chuckled at his comment, saying he was beginning the drive by donating plasma.
But between the banter, there is a serious message our emergency services men and women are pushing.
“When we were doing the drive last year, it was on the back of Sergeant Luke Warburton getting shot,” Superintendent McFadden said
“I think it brings it home because he was perilously close to dying in that incident that occurred up at Nepean Hospital.
“It reminds us of the dangers of the work we do.”
Blood Service spokesperson Ronny Maroun said more than 900 new donors were needed across western Sydney this winter, with many regular donors knocked out by the cold and flu season.
“We are hoping that through the Emergency Services Challenge and the example of these amazing men and women, who save lives on a regular basis through their profession, that more people will be encouraged to donate blood to give others a second chance at life,” he said.
While friendly competition helps get the blood flowing, it’s not about which command wins or who loses, because ultimately the community wins.
“The thing that matters is how many lives we save from all of the donations, that’s what it’s about,” Superintendent Peters said.
Nationally, the competing groups will aim to make 8,500 donations, potentially saving 25,000 lives.
To donate blood this winter, call 13 14 95 or visit www.donateblood.com.au.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.