EMS joins annual ‘Battle of the Badges’ blood drive starting Thursday

The annual holiday season blood drive known as “Battle of the Badges” begins Thursday in the Wichita area.

People who can donate blood or platelets are encouraged to do so between Thursday and Jan. 4 and then vote for their preferred emergency responder. For the first 19 years of the “Battle of the Badges,” they could choose between the police and the fire departments. But the Emergency Medical Service has joined the competition for the first time this year.

Donors receive a free T-shirt. The drive is held in late December and early January to compensate for a seasonal dip in blood donations, said Geneva Land, donor recruitment representative with the American Red Cross.

This year’s goal is 942 pints of blood and 307 units for platelets, Land said. While walk-ins are welcome at the Wichita Blood Donor Center, 707 N. Main, donors are encouraged to call 800-733-2767 or go online at www.redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

The police department won last year’s friendly competition, cutting the fire department’s lead to 10-9.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.