Battle of the Badges 2018

The Emporia Fire Department hoists the Battle of the Badges trophy in celebration after winning the 2018 competition.

Emporia’s first responders have always prioritized saving lives, and starting this week, they’ll be doing so in an unconventional way.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the annual Battle of the Badges Blood Drive which will be held through Friday at 12th Avenue Baptist Church. Blood donations will be taken from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

In addition to supporting a good cause, all donors will receive a free T-shirt, $5 Amazon.com gift card and get the chance to vote for their favorite law enforcement agency — the Emporia Police Department, Emporia Fire Department or Lyon County Sheriff’s Office — to determine bragging rights.

“First responders are people that definitely understand the need for blood,” said American Red Cross Central Plains Account Manager Susan Faler. “[The drive] is a good way for us to partner and show the community how we can work together as well as start a fun, friendly competition between the law enforcement agencies and the fire department.”

This year’s drive is especially important as the American Red Cross currently faces an emergency blood shortage. Donors are needed now to ensure patients with life-threatening conditions avoid delays in their treatment this summer. Donations of all blood types are needed, including power red donations, a process which uses a special machine to draw two units of red blood cells while returning plasma and platelets back to the donor.

“About 20 percent of the blood our organization gets comes from students, so when they are not in school we automatically have a decrease in our numbers,” Faler said. “With all the weather events and natural disasters we have during the summer months, that also causes a need. It’s not necessarily that we need more blood because of the danger from hurricanes or other storms themselves, it’s that those storms knock out blood drive locations and places where blood is stored.”

Walk-ins are encouraged to stop by, but may have to wait to donate until those with set appointments have finished. Appointments can be scheduled by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, or by calling 1-800-733-2767 and using the sponsor code “Emporia.” A blood donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Besides remembering to bring the right documentation, Faler encourages prospective donors to pay attention to how they feel on the day of the donation.

“People need to be mindful of the amount of water they take in, especially during this time of year, because they don’t realize how much is lost as perspiration” Faler said. “Getting a good night’s sleep beforehand is always important, too. We’re giving the blood to people that may need it to save their lives, so it’s important that people come in feeling well themselves and able to donate healthy blood. Besides that, I would suggest donors to eat foods that are high in iron before they donate, if possible.”

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