Today is expected to be the bloodiest day in Rutland’s history.
More than 200 staffers from the American Red Cross and more than 300 volunteers have descended on Rutland for the annual Gift of Life Marathon blood drive, taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at five locations.
The drive, organized by Green Mountain Power, is Rutland’s third attempt to break the national record for most donations collected during a one-day blood drive. Manchester, N.H. holds the record of 1,968 pints. Last year, Rutland fell short by 14.
Organizer Steve Costello said that more than 2,000 people have made appointments to give blood today, and that his greatest fear is that number inspiring complacency.
“This is not in the bag,” he said Monday. “Everywhere I go, that’s what I keep hearing — ‘We’ve got this in the bag.’ We’re very worried about overconfidence in the community. We had a huge number of appointments last year, too, and we came up short.”
Last year, 200 people with appointments simply didn’t show up for one reason or another, Costello said, such as family emergencies or sudden illness. About 300 of this year’s appointments are high school students and likely first-time donors, he said, and first-time donors have a higher rate of being rejected.
So, organizers continue to encourage walk-ins. Costello said anyone worried about getting to one of the donation sites — The Paramount Theatre, College of St. Joseph, the American Legion, the Elks Club and the Holiday Inn — can call 468-1202.
“Anyone, anywhere wants a ride, Dave Wolk or one of his people from Castleton (State College) will pick them up,” he said.
With a computerized intake system, Costello said organizers will have a clear, real-time picture of how much blood had come in.
“If we’re super close and don’t know for a fact we have it, we’ll probably stay open a little later at the Paramount,” he said. “We’ll get the word out on the radio and by Twitter.”
Costello said he encourages people to follow the event on Twitter, where updates will be marked with the hashtag #GOLM13.
“We’ll be trying to get information on where the shortest waits are, that kind of thing,” he said. “Bottom line, we feel cautiously optimistic.”
- By Gordon Dritschilo | Staff Writer