Wichita and Sedgwick County law enforcement came out on top Tuesday as the Central Plains Red Cross announced winners in this year’s Battle of the Badges.
Wichita and Sedgwick County fire departments were hoping for a second consecutive win, but lost by 23 votes.
Now in its 19th year, the friendly competition pits area law enforcement and fire departments against each other, as blood donors vote on their favorite first responders. This year, law enforcement won with 446 votes.
“We came out on top, which is great because we don’t have to listen to the firefighters all year,” said Capt. Brenda Dietzman of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
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Dietzman said she couldn’t wait to get back to the office to send out a department-wide e-mail.
“People like to know,” she said of their victory.
The fire departments typically win the local competition, and Dietzman said they do in most other communities that hold similar competitions.
“The fire departments always win because everybody likes fire departments, right?” she said. “They like the big red trucks.
“We’re one of the few communities that law enforcement actually wins. So it’s great to have that relationship with the community.”
The 21-day blood drive over the holiday season collected 967 pints of blood and 534 units of platelets, surpassing the Red Cross’s goal by a fairly large margin.
Central Plains Red Cross spokeswoman Cari Merrill said blood donations are typically down this time of year, as illness and weather conditions keep donors from making and keeping their appointments to donate.
“It’s all fun and games for our first responders,” Merrill said of the competition, “but ultimately it’s our patients who are the winners.”