Blood service in type O-negative territory

Jim Smith (centre) with SES members Steph Sullivan and Shane Newcombe front up to give blood. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Jim Smith (centre) with SES members Steph Sullivan and Shane Newcombe front up to give blood. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

NSW SES acting commissioner Jim Smith is used to rolling up his sleeves to help save lives so was only too happy to donate at the Wollongong Blood Donor Centre on Thursday.

Mr Smith was among five SES members to come to the rescue of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service which this week is calling out for donations to boost dwindling supplies.

Blood service spokesman Jarrod Flynn welcomed the emergency response, with stocks of the much-needed blood type O at dangerously low levels across the state.

"All blood types are constantly needed but of particular concern at the moment is blood type O-negative which is the universal blood type used in emergency situations," he said.

"We like to keep three days' supply of this blood type, but currently we've only got 1½ days' supply."

Mr Smith said the NSW SES was often faced with devastating scenes where people required life-saving measures.

"Our volunteers are often on the scene of accidents so to be doing something positive, by donating blood, which can help save a life, is very rewarding," he said.

Mr Flynn said up to 1000 appointments a week were being cancelled at blood banks across the state due to donors feeling unwell.

"We typically see this in winter with many of our regular donors having to cancel appointments due to colds and flu," he said.

"We need to fill the gaps left so we're calling out for lots of new donors to come forward and roll up their sleeves."

The SES members who answered the call to duty on Thursday were also helping to add to their tally for the eight-week emergency service donor challenge.

The challenge involves police, firefighters, paramedics and emergency response workers and volunteers.

"It creates a friendly rivalry between services and allows workers and volunteers to save lives in a different way," Mr Flynn said.

"With one in three people needing blood in their lifetime, it's important that we find more everyday heroes."

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