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Firefighters donate blood for Orlando shooting victims

Around 750 firefighters congregated at an annual union meeting, where many donated blood

By Dana Treen
The Florida Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. When a mobile blood unit opened in downtown Jacksonville on Monday, Capt. Stephen Suarez of Tampa Fire Rescue was the first on board.

Suarez, the president of the Tampa firefighters union, is in Jacksonville for the annual union meeting and said he was responding to an urgent call for donations before becoming involved in the union sessions.

“They called for an urgent need,” he said after getting off the donation bus. “They need all the blood they can get.”

In addition to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, Suarez said he feels for colleagues in Orlando.

“My first thought process is any situation, with two or three people is bad,” he said. “I would hate to be in my brothers’ and sisters’ shoes right now, what they are going through. There is definitely an emotional drain.”

The union meeting Monday and Tuesday involves about 750 firefighters, many of whom are expected to donate blood over the next two days.

Copyright 2016 The Florida Times-Union