The Bellmore Fire Department gave back to the community in pints on Tuesday, when it hosted a blood drive, which was run with the New York Blood Center at fire headquarters on Pettit Avenue.
In attendance were several of Bellmore's bravest, as well as newly elected fire commissioner Matthew O'Connor, who was more than willing to give his blood and help out during what the New York Blood Center has said is an extremely needy time of year for blood donors.
"I try to donate as much as I can," O'Connor said. "This is the first time I think we've had a blood drive here in probably over a decade, so I'm just trying to help out. It's close to home and easy to do."
He added: "This was something that Tom Stoerger had wanted. That was like one of his last things that he got done in office, which is good."
Stoerger, who's three-year run as Chief of the Bellmore Fire Department ended on Jan. 1, was more than happy to help out a community that has been just as giving to the department.
"The Volunteer Fire Department is involved in the community in many ways and [we] felt this would very beneficial to the entire area," Stoerger said.
Joe Ancona, a Bellmore firefighter of three years, agreed with his ex-chief as he patiently waited to donate a little blood of his own.
"We're doing it to help out people," Ancona said. "It's definitely a good thing to do. They also have a couple of other machines for double blood cells as well, which is actually better for people especially if you have a different kind of blood. It's definitely [done] just to give back to the community, and we offer it to the whole community as well."
Ancona was referring to "ALYX," an automated red blood cell donation system which allows donors to donate two units of critically needed red cells in one visit.
According to the New York Blood Center: "An aging population and new medical treatments are contributing to an increasing demand for surgeries and procedures requiring blood transfusions. At the same time, more restrictive donor eligibility criteria intended to protect the safety of the blood supply has decreased the eligible donor pool. In the face of this growing need, obtaining two units of red cells from a donor will help us meet the needs of local hospitals and the patients they serve."
The automated red cell donation draws blood, separates the red cells from the other blood components such as plasma and platelets, and stores the red cells while the other components are returned to the donor along with saline solution.
While plenty of Bellmore firefighters came out to donate, firefighters from other towns also showed up, like Kevin Madigan, a first-year firefighter form Freeport.
"I'm always looking for a place to go donate," Madigan said. "Every eight to 10 weeks I look to donate, regardless of where it is. I just want to make a difference and help other people. … I've been to recreation centers, apartment buildings, fire departments – it doesn't matter. Wherever it is, I'll go to it."