America’s gambling capital turned a more sober leaf as hundreds of people lined up to donate blood in the aftermath of the country’s deadliest mass shooting in recent history.
The morning after a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas, people from as far away as China and Switzerland queued at blood donation centers to help the injured, Reuters reports.
Stephen Paddock, 64 years old, aimed his guns from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel at the crowd watching country music singers perform. He killed 59 people and wounded over 500 more before taking his own life.
Since then, blood donation centers in the city have seen people waiting for hours to give blood. Blood bank workers say they have met donors from Arizona to California, from Mexico, Japan, Honduras, Brazil, Venezuela, and more. Some donors from Mexico said this was their way of making up for not being able to help during an earthquake two weeks ago.
The blood bank near the UMC Trauma Center, where medical staff members have been working tirelessly to tend to the injured, has organized a pop-up center to accommodate the large number of blood donations. Volunteers started coming in the early morning following the shooting. Hospital workers have now set up at a parking lot across from the hospital.
Laura Alvarado, a United Blood Services donor recruiter, said,
It started with a couple of tents and a sign-in sheet.
By the time evening came, there were two mobile buses at the location, along with awnings, folding chairs and pizza, donuts and water supplied by local merchants.
On normal days, hospitals in Las Vegas use around 300 units of blood products, which take a few days to test and prepare. Immediately after the shooting, the blood bank sent 200 units to UMC Trauma alone, which received the patients in the most critical conditions.
Alvarado said, “That left a pretty bare shelf.” An appeal for donations went out, and within hours, over a thousand people had registered. People gave up their vacations or a day of work to stand in line.
Don and Kimberly Miller, from Chicago, waited for much of the day to give blood. “You don’t feel very much like vacationing when something like this happens,” Kimberly said. “You’ve got to do something.”