Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Room looked a lot like an emergency triage center yesterday, as local residents turned out in droves for the American .
There were people behind screens taking medical histories and people lying prone on gurneys with IVs in their arms, all happy to give their life's blood to help others.
"We are in emergency appeal right now," said American Red Cross Supervisor Tracy-Lee Klein. Over the summer, demand for blood typically rises, she explained, because there are more cars on the road, more boats in the water, and more people participating in outdoor sporting activities, all of which can lead to accidents.
At the same time, donations typically decrease, she said, because so many people are on vacation. That was not the case in Old Lyme yesterday, however. Klein said 78 people had made appointments and dozens more walked in after seeing the sign, many of them patiently waiting for half an hour or more to give blood.
"We're very busy," said Klein, adding that this was one of the best-attended blood drives in the area.
The Red Cross was offering coupons for Friendly's ice cream as a sweet incentive to attract donors but Jason Conroy, owner of , didn't need that kind of inducement. He said he always donates blood when he can.
Doug Whalen, president of Old Colony Beach Association, is also a frequent donor because his blood type is one that is most in demand. He heard about the blood drive when he attended the earlier this week.
"Hopefully I'll never have to use it but I'm glad it's available to people," he said. "I'm the universal donor. That's why I do it, because I know that universal donors are in demand."
Tain Vincent, 21, said he also gives blood because his blood type is considered universal. "I saw the sign yesterday," Vincent said. "I believe in giving blood. It really is a good deed."
David Shoemaker, 19, said he's been giving blood since he was 17. Sadly, his former classmate, Dan Coburn, might need it. Coburn, a 2012 graduate of , was diagnosed with leukemia in May.
First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said this blood drive was officially dedicated to him. "It's one of those diseases where blood donations are very important," she said.