Six times a year, Slippery Rock University’s students and faculty come together to help out people in need by organizing a blood drive through the American Red Cross. Many people help out by volunteering their time, whether they help set up for the drive, provide snacks and drinks for the donors to replenish themselves after they finish giving blood, or actually donating their own blood.
Whatever someone does to help out, the planning can be very extensive, according to SRU’s Red Cross Club secretary, senior elementary and special education major Whitney Crigger.
Crigger, 21, said that the Red Cross Club’s main goal is to first get a lot of volunteers and donors by advertising.
“We advertise like crazy, at the organizational fair, chalking on campus, we post flyers around the dorms and anywhere else we can,” Crigger said.
She said the most difficult thing about planning a blood drive on campus is finding the space to have it and finding a date that works for the university as well as the American Red Cross.
“[Finding the space] is the main problem, because the facilities are in such demand, we try to have the date marked months in advance,” she said.
Behind the organization of the on-campus blood drives is Program Director for Student Engagement Laurel Dagnon, who is also on the Board of Directors of the Western Pennsylvania Red Cross. Wearing red for the cause, Dagnon explained what she does for the blood drives.
“There are a number of components when planning for the drive,” Dagnon said. “For instance, making sure schedules fit between the university and the Red Cross, working rapidly to secure the stations at the actual drive, and making sure we have a strong outreach to students are just some of the things we do to plan.”
“I would normally plan six months out to secure for the room of where we want to have the drive and to make sure the Red Cross is available during the times that the University is,” she said.
Not only is planning for the blood drive important, but the actual process of blood donation is just as important, according to Red Cross Supervisor Anita Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons said the training for nurses is very extensive, adding that not only is medical training required, but they need to learn all of the Red Cross procedures as well.
Fitzsimmons then explained the process of taking blood and what happens to it after it is donated.
“The donors first have to read the information packet, have proper ID or a Red Cross card and have their mini physical,” Fitzsimmons said. “The phlebotomy, or the area of the arm that the needle goes into, is scrubbed for 60 seconds, so it is free of germs because we don’t want to put any dirt into the vein or want any to go into the blood bag. It is normal for the donor to bleed within 10 minutes, then put into six tubes and it is tested before it leaves the lab. After the lab, it goes out to hospitals wherever it is needed.”
Billi Kamicker, a CS1 Nurse, said there are specific requirements that a donor needs to have when donating blood. Donors are required to be at least 110 pounds, 18 years old or 16 years old with parental consent, and must be in general good health and not on any antibiotics.
“There are not any risks generally with giving blood, that’s why we have the requirements to protect the donors,” Kamicker said. “People usually just bruise around the area that the needle was in. If something does happen, like if they become light headed, we lay them down with their legs up and give them plenty of fluids and something to eat, usually people recover quickly.”
SRU is having two additional blood drives this semester, which will be held on October 31 and November 8.