"Sirens for Life" Off to Good Start

12 Division
When a Canadian Blood Services (CBS) mobile unit showed up at 12 Division a few years ago, Constable Sarah Richards didn’t hesitate to roll up her sleeves and make a donation.

“I was working and I wasn’t prepared, but that didn’t matter,” she said. “I have a friend whose 10-year old son had blood transfusions just to get out of hospital, go home where he died peacefully. I know how important this is.”

Richards was among several officers who donated blood at this year’s “Sirens for Life” launch at the CBS Toronto office on College St. on July 26.

She has “O” positive blood which is the most common type in Canada.

“That means I am a universal donor,” said Richards, making her 20th donation.

“Sirens for Life” is an annual competition among Toronto Police Service (TPS), Toronto Fire and Toronto Paramedic Services on which organization can give the most blood donations over the summer.

Established in 2008, the program helps to sustain blood donations during the summer, when donations are typically lower as regular donors are often on vacation.

“The blood will save lives,” said Staff Superintendent Mario Di Tommaso, who attended the launch with 12 Division Unit Commander Superintendent Scott Weidmark. “Typically, when we have a life-threatening accident in Toronto, that patient can require up to 50 units of blood to survive. It’s important that we have sufficient units of blood for all these accident victims. We are here to save lives. There are also a lot of police officers who have required blood and the outcome could have been different if we didn’t have that blood.”

Constable Tracy Snedden took time out of her foot-patrol duties in the busy downtown core to make a donation.

Woman in a police uniform lying in a chair and giving blood, while a man in a police uniform looks over her.
S/Supt Mario Di Tommaso thanks Const. Tracy Snedden for her donation Photo: Ron Fanfair

“It’s another way to give back to the community while enjoying a friendly competition among emergency services,” said the officer, who’s been with the Service for the past 17 years.

Beth Frise, the CBS territorial manager in the last decade, welcomed the Toronto Police’s contributions.

“They have always come through for us,” she pointed out. “It’s normally tough during the summer months for us to meet our collection target because many of our regular donors are on vacation. There are a few long weekends in the summer and the demand for blood goes up. It’s great to see our police officers are coming out to help us.”

Detective Sergeant David Ecklund has been an active CBS volunteer for the last 15 years.

When he was 12, Ecklund had a bone marrow transplant.

“If I didn’t get this transplant, I was told I had six months to live,” he said. “During my several months in hospital, I was given dozens of blood transfusions to keep me alive. In high school and university, I attempted to donate blood to give back what I had used. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so because the cause of the aplastic anemia I had was never found. So, in 2001, I applied and started volunteering my time with CBS.”

A man and a woman wearing business attire are flanked by men wearing police uniforms
S/Supt Scott Weidmark, D/Sgt David Ecklund, Beth Frise and S/Supt Mario Di Tommaso Photo: Ron Fanfair

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