Red Crossers have been on the ground in Orlando since Sunday morning, providing comfort where possible. We provided food and water to first responders in the immediate aftermath of the shooting – and supported a community vigil event held yesterday evening with canteening, health services, and behavioral health assistance.
Our mental health volunteers are onsite at a family assistance center to help counsel and support loved ones struggling to come to terms with this tragedy. Local Red Cross volunteers are also supporting the City of Orlando’s Family Emergency Hotline by answering phone calls and providing information. And we’ve begun assessing unmet needs for the injured and those with access and functional needs. Over the coming days, the Red Cross will continue to coordinate closely with local officials to determine how we can best support the community by working alongside partners.
Additionally, while Red Cross Biomedical Services doesn’t typically serve hospitals in the Orlando area, we have provided 30 units of type O negative blood to support Florida hospitals in response to the shooting.
How you can help
I know that many of you are searching for ways to help in the wake of such a senseless tragedy – and this terrible event illustrates the importance of a fulsome blood supply during times of emergency. While the Red Cross has received a tremendous outpouring of support from blood donors over the last few days, ongoing and consistent donations are vital to ensuring that we are always prepared to fulfill our mission.
Given the high volume of blood donors Red Cross facilities are expecting this week, I’d encourage all eligible and interested Red Crossers to schedule an appointment to give blood sometime in the weeks and months ahead. You can easily make an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting www.redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. It’s important to note that the American Red Cross and all blood collectors in the U.S. are required to follow the rules and guidance issued by the FDA, including blood donation eligibility.