CHATHAM, NJ- One of the most important things a person can do is donate blood. Each year 4.5 million Americans will need a blood transfusion.  Someone needs blood every two seconds and about one in seven people entering a hospital need blood.  One pint of blood can save up to three lives.

On Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m. at the Chatham Borough Farmers Market, the Chatham Emergency Squad held their sixth annual blood drive. They hold four drives a year and each one has a great turnout, said Teresa Binning, a Chatham Emergency Medical Technician.  

Binning, a Chatham resident, has been an EMT for four years, is the cadet manager and the treasurer of the organization. Members of the Chatham, EMT staff were on hand to assist people with any questions they had, as well. With people attending the farmers market, the hope was that they would stop by after to donate blood, she said. It’s really a great community event, Binning told TheAlternativePress.com.

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“The blood banks can always use blood” she said. “You never know when you’re going to need blood.”

Maryann McCabe, a fellow EMT, stressed it is important to eat before donating blood. While each person reacts differently after giving blood, with some feeling a bit woozy and others feeling okay, the EMTs provided sugary snacks for everyone.  

“The important thing though for a lot of people is to have a good breakfast and come hydrated,” McCabe said.

The New York Blood Center had a large bus with four beds where trained personnel were drawing blood from donors. One of those people was former nurse Paula Bertagna. Bertagna said it is important to give blood because it helps hospitals and saves many lives. She and her co-workers travel throughout the state spreading the word about donating blood.

As a former nurse, it's much less stress and definitely a change of pace, she said. To go from transfusing to receiving the product is a different type of experience, Bertagna said.

“It’s a nice change to talk to the donors and tell them their product is being put to a good use,” she said.

While some people are nervous because of the needle or it is their first time giving blood, Chatham residents Mike Green and Alex Chorny, who have both donated before, said it was quite easy.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Green said. “I don’t do much else in the way of volunteering so it’s a way I can sort of do a more charitable thing.”

“I’ve had family before who’ve been in the hospital, so I’m just giving back,” Chorny added.