Fire department has slight lead early in ‘Battle of the Badges’

The Wichita Fire Department has a narrow lead over law enforcement in the early stages of the annual Battle of the Badges blood drive, according to Red Cross officials, but the new horse in the race — Emergency Medical Service — is not far behind.

The 20th annual holiday blood drive “is off to a great start,” Red Cross spokeswoman Jan Hale said.

The Red Cross has set a goal of 942 pints of whole blood and 307 units of platelets for the blood drive, which runs through Jan. 4. The drive is important to the Red Cross, agency officials have said, because there is routinely a significant drop in blood donations over the holiday period.

Donors get a free T-shirt and can vote for their favorite emergency service. The fire department holds a 10-9 lead, with EMS joining the competition for the first time this year.

Persons interested in donating blood can call 800-733-2767 to make an appointment. They can also make appointments online at www.redcrossblood.org.

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