Community Responds to Oklahoma Tornado Disaster Relief at Blood Drive
The severe weather outbreak Monday afternoon and evening was felt from every corner of the state. As a massive EF5 Tornado ripped through Moore, OK, the skies in Owasso were beginning to stir. Before local media could report the widespread damage in the Oklahoma City suburb, a line of storms quickly developed, and tornado warnings were issued in several Northeastern Oklahoma counties. Code Black rang through the hospital at Bailey Medical Center. Employees and staff moved patients and prepared to take cover. On this particular May evening, Owasso was spared. As the helicopters hovered over what used to be neighborhoods and schools, the rest of the state realized Moore was not.
“This is quadruple the response of what we normally get at Bailey,” says Bailey Medical Center Education Specialist Erin Miller, as she reviews the list of people expected Thursday. “When I was driving to work Tuesday morning I was thinking, ‘what can I do to help?’ I thought, Thursday we have a blood drive scheduled. I can donate blood and I know a lot of people in the community probably feel the same way.” Miller was right.
“That’s what I was hoping for…was to donate for the tornado,” says Ian Hughes as he sits waiting to give blood, just two months following the blood drive he participated in at his school. Hughes was happy to find another opportunity, this time at Bailey Medical Center. “It makes me feel really good to help.”
For the mother of two children, ages 12 and 7, Adrian Stidham gives blood for the families who have lost so much. She squeezes the stress ball with mixed emotions. “Blessed and saddened,” Stidham says of how it feels to watch from afar. “My family was spared and my children are safe, but there are families who have lost their loved ones, mainly children. It is heartbreaking.”
Linda Schroeder, like Stidham, has 0 negative blood. They both know how many people their universal blood type can help. “They always call me to give blood and I don’t mind, so that’s why I’m here,” says Schroeder. “It’s worth it.”
With a back-to-back schedule of donors expected to arrive, extra hours and volunteer staff were added to accommodate the response. By mid-day, American Red Cross representatives estimated Thursday’s blood drive would bring in at least 30 units of blood. That’s roughly 90 lives saved with the blood, plasma and platelets donated from this one drive. However, after a final tally, 49 units of blood were donated in the single drive, impacting nearly 150 lives.
After Monday’s devastation, Miller believes the community was eagerly looking for ways to help with the tornado disaster relief. “Tuesday morning, whenever we had posted it on our Bailey Facebook page and shared by Owassoisms, within 30 minutes to an hour we shot up to almost 30 people that were wanting to make appointments,” she says.
This tragedy highlights the need at any time and any location for blood across the United States. Where there is a need for blood, the American Red Cross has a network of donation centers to supply it. Blood donated through regularly scheduled drives throughout the year stays in the community to supply hospitals, like Bailey Medical Center. The American Red Cross reminds the public to remember these blood drives not only in times of crises, but throughout the year.
Summer blood supply is typically low. Donations from regular donors are low due to travel and seasonal activities, but the need is high with more demand for blood when accidents happen. The American Red Cross works to be prepared for any events, should they occur here at home or away. Miller hopes the response to this drive is another reminder to donate throughout the year. “Giving blood is one way you can help in your town in your community,” she says.
Seeing her community respond by rolling up their sleeves, Miller says, “Makes me proud to work here.”
To find blood drives in your area, search redcrossblood.org.