SACO — Whether it be due to the lead-up to the holiday season, hurricanes or other emergencies like the forest fires in California, people aren’t donating blood as they usually do.

That’s according to Mary Brant of the American Red Cross, Northern New England division.

Brant said the phenomenon is a national issue for the Red Cross, not just in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the states that make up the Northern New England division.

“The norm is that we try to have a minimum five-day blood supply on hand, so we can respond, not only to day-to-day patient needs, but to be prepared for emergencies like hurricanes and fires,” Brant said in a telephone interview Monday. “We have less than a three-day supply on hand nationally. It is going out as fast as it is coming in. That is not a comfortable place to be in.”

Brant said holidays are always a struggle for the agency, with people on vacation and visiting family and friends. But she said this year, the slowdown happened well before last week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

“In the five years I have been with the Red Cross, I have never seen it this bad,” she said. “Blood is a perishable product, so we always need donors. This really is an urgent need.”

The Red Cross has scheduled a number of blood drives across York County and the rest of the state. Among them is a blood drive at Saco’s Central Fire Station, 271 North St., set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The fire department’s public education coordinator, Karl Finley, said the department usually hosts four to five blood drives a year, and has already committed to four for 2019.

He said people who give blood at the Saco fire station usually book their appointment in advance.

“It’s a great thing to do,” Finley said. “People can come look at the firetrucks and look at the ambulance,” and then give blood.

As well as a need for donors, Brant said, there is also a need for more hosts. She said the tri-state region could use 200 more blood drive hosts from now through February.

To donate blood at any blood donor clinic, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call the Red Cross at (800) 733-2767 to make an appointment. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or at:

[email protected]

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