BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Many people view Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start of summer, kicking off many people’s vacations and travels. Police say holiday weekends like this one have a higher rate of drunk driving wrecks on the roads.
With more people on the roads during the summer, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says it can lead to more car wrecks, but the number of people traveling also puts a strain on the state’s blood supply.
“Central Alabama is at about a one-day supply, and we want to be at a five, four-to-five-day supply,” says Paige Howard, Lifesouth Community Blood Center district community development coordinator.
Lifesouth says every two seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion. Because blood takes time to prepare for transfusion, doctors say having a supply on hand is important in case something big happens.
“If we’re not prepared to transfuse patients when unfortunately, trauma victims come in, or when people need blood for a medical procedure, there’s no time to donate at that point,” says Dr. Marisa Marques, UAB pathology professor.
“Doctors all over the state are having to make decisions on which operations, surgeries are canceled and things like that so it’s really critical that people get out and donate,” says Howard.
Lifesouth says there are fewer donors during the summer as well, adding to the short supply. In order to build up and maintain a four to five-day blood supply for hospitals, the organization says between 700 and 800 people per day would need to donate in the state.
“More people are out on the roads, you have more car wrecks, people doing adventurous things, hiking, biking, swimming and injuries go up so there’s definitely a drop in the number of donations with the increased accidents and things like that,” says Howard.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says while not all car wrecks result in someone going to the hospital or needing blood, it’s important to stay vigilant and sober on the roads, especially during a holiday weekend.
“Anyone that drinks and drives can find themselves impaired below the legal limit. So, basically what we’re looking for from a law enforcement perspective is impaired driving and if that impaired driving is above the legal limit, typically that’s going to be a DUI,” says Captain Jason Myrick with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
To learn more about being a blood donor, check out Lifesouth’s website here.