Sunday, 14 April 2024

Annual 'Bucket Brigade' effort collects much-needed blood for the region

LAKE COUNTY – Countless lives have been positively impacted – and some lives saved – thanks to the efforts of Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake county fire departments and citizens alike.

Blood Bank of the Redwoods garnered 1,471 blood donors during their fourth annual Bucket Brigade competition, which lasted from last November through February.

Lakeport Fire Protection District came in third place, with 119 donors, in their first year taking part in the competition.

South Lake County Fire Protection District recruited 41 donors, bringing Lake County’s total number of donors during the Bucket Brigade to 160.

Geyserville Fire Department, last year’s champions, had to hand the Bucket Brigade Trophy over to Windsor Fire Department, which beat Geyserville’s 130 donors by recruiting 175 donors.

In all, 1,471 units of blood were donated – one unit per donor – which then made its way back to the blood bank in Santa Rosa, where it will be put through 14 different tests and separated into its components, according to the Blood Bank of the Redwoods.

The blood bank's biologic laboratory is one of only five in California.

“Your blood will be tested for laboratory evidence of infectious agents capable of transmission through blood transfusion,” said Kent Corley, Blood Bank of the Redwoods spokesman.

Then, Blood Bank of the Redwoods delivers the blood to the hospitals for use in treatments for a variety of needs – from leukemia to gunshot wounds. In 2007, they put their one millionth pint of blood into the collective bloodstream since they opened in 1949.

Lake County uses 30 to 35 units of blood each month. But, Lake County usually gives more than it receives. Corley reported that, last year alone, over 1,000 units of blood came from Lake County.

One example of how important a blood donation is found in the story of Captain Bob Ray and Leo Teissere.

At Lakeport Fire's Bucket Brigade Blood Drive, blood bank account coordinator Liz Grube saw Teissere and asked if he was donating or whether he was a member of the fire department.

He answered neither and explained that he was there to support the people who meant so much to him – especially since he had been a blood recipient in the past.

He pointed out Ray and called him a hero, as Teissere admitted that he would not be alive if it weren’t for Ray.

Ray saved Teissere's life at a church a few blocks up the street from the fire station in Lakeport. He suffered a heart attack and Ray resuscitated him at the scene. He was OK but, three days after leaving the hospital, he had another big attack.

The second attack led to open-heart surgery, and that is when he received several units of life-saving blood. Those events happened over 16 years ago.

But, blood is needed year round – not just during the Bucket Brigade. Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa and Marin county hospitals are all partnered with the blood bank and always need blood.

Most of the blood is used locally, but when there is excess inventory, Blood Bank of the Redwoods helps other blood centers across the country when they are in need, said Corley.

“Thanks to programs like the Bucket Brigade, our current inventory is adequate,” he said. “But, because we cannot stockpile blood products, we can never let up.”

Blood Bank of the Redwoods partnered with St. Helena Hospital Clearlake as of Jan. 15. St. Helena Hospital serves Middletown, Hidden Valley, Cobb, Lower Lake, Kelseyville, Clearlake and Clearlake Oaks. Their previous blood supplier was Blood Centers of the Pacific.

For an extensive list of drives in the weeks to follow and drives in surrounding counties, visit .

Blood Bank of the Redwoods has been saving lives since 1949 with the help of the community members that it serves. For more general information visit the blood bank's Web site, .


E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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