Area emergency agencies want to prepare for severe weather season by stocking up on blood supplies.
The Columbia County Emergency and Operations Division and Shepeard Community Blood Center will hold a disaster preparedness blood drive Thursday. Residents can donate at the Evans Government Center auditorium from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Two mobile units will be parked outside the Roads and Bridges Department on County Camp Road in Appling from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We continue in our area, every severe weather season, to have tornados and have severe storms," said Pam Tucker, the director of Emergency and Operations. "We just want to make sure that we have plenty of blood on the shelves at Shepeard for hospitals in the event that we do have a major disaster with a lot of injuries."
The Columbia County Mobile Operations Center will be set up in the Evans Government Center's parking lot. Donors can tour the mobile unit, receive severe weather preparation information and register to win one of five National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association alert radios.
"Basically, it's a communication center on wheels," Tucker said. "It was used to provide communications for Jefferson County after their tornado last March."
The county held its first springtime blood drive in March 2008 after the sugar refinery explosion in Savannah, Ga.
Donations are needed before a disaster occurs to maintain a high supply of blood, Tucker said.
"It takes a few days to process the blood, so if you have it here and you constantly keep that blood on those shelves, then we're always at the ready to help save lives immediately," she said.
The number of blood donors in the county climbs each year, Tucker said. In 2008, 621 people gave donations at a blood drive; 551 donors were recorded in 2007.
The next community blood drive will be held in Evans and Appling on June 10.
Each donor will receive a free Chik-fil-A meal, a blood donor T-shirt, a free cholesterol screening and can register to win other prizes.
Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Donors need to be at least 17 years old, though 16-year-olds can donate blood with parental consent. Those interested in contributing must provide a photo I.D. and must not have donated blood during the past 56 days.
IF YOU GO
What: Disaster Preparedness Blood Drive
Where: The Evans Government Center Auditorium and the Roads and Bridges Department in Appling
When: Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Evans and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Appling
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