Brazilian Adventists Help in Healing
After Santa Maria Inferno

In wake of nightclub fire that killed hundreds, blood drive, first aid given. (Posted February 20, 2013)

BY FELIPE LEMOS, ASN, reporting from Brasilia, Brazil

Seventh-day Adventist young adults in Brazil rallied to donate blood in the wake of the world’s deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.

Site of Tragedy: A fire at a nightclub in downtown Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, killed at least 231 people on January 27, 2013, and left hundreds injured, leaving area hospitals scrambling to restock blood banks. [PHOTOS: ASN]

At least 231 partygoers died, and some 200 were injured, on January 27, 2013, when a band’s pyrotechnics display ignited ceiling insulation at a club in downtown Santa Maria, about 200 miles west of Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil. The fire released flames and toxic smoke into the panicked crowd, and a stampede broke out, media reports indicate.

As victims flooded local hospitals, medical staff urgently appealed to the Adventist-run Vida por Vidas (“Life for Lives”) blood-donation organization in South America. The denomination is known for handling large-scale blood donation drives, especially in Brazil, where health officials estimate the project annually contributes 3.5 million units of blood.

Blood donors gathered early on Sunday, January 27, at the Central Adventist Church in Santa Maria and immediately headed to the city’s Blood Donation Center, said Vida por Vidas coordinator Adriano Luz.

Meanwhile, Adventist medical staff volunteered at local hospitals, among them Dr. Jocemara Fernandes, who received an emergency call to aid victims early Sunday morning.

“The scene of horror and despair I witnessed was unprecedented in my experience,” Fernandes said. She has worked in a local emergency room for more than a decade.

Ready to Donate: Young donors participated in the Vida por Vidas blood drive.

Fernandes treated at least 15 victims between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. “Most people had problems related to smoke inhalation,” she said.

Another young victim suffered second-degree burns and had difficulty breathing, Fernandes said. Most victims were under the age of 30.

“What we can do now is pray, for the injured and the bereaved families, that God will help them,” Fernandes said.

Santa Maria mayor Cezar Schirmer declared a 30-day mourning period, and local authorities continue to investigate the cause of the blaze, according to media reports.

Vida por Vidas was launched in 2006 and is overseen by young Brazilian Seventh-day Adventists.


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