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Friday
August 23rd, 2019

By ROBERT PIERCE 

• Leader & Times

Liberal’s first responders spend their days helping others, and with saving lives their top priority, they are helping to bolster the community’s blood supply this summer.

Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. at Liberal’s First Southern Baptist Chuch, blood donors are invited to join first responders and be a lifesaver at the annual Battle of the Badges.

During the event, the Liberal Police Department, Liberal Fire Department and Seward County EMS will compete to see who can recruit the most blood donors.

Everyone who comes can cast a vote to determine who will win this year’s bragging rights. American Red Cross Blood Services External Communications Manager Jan Hale said this should provide extra motivation for blood donors to give a pint.

“It’s just a great way to support,” she said. “These guys are doing this to help the blood supply, and this is just a way to tell them ‘thank you’ and to support this effort.”

Donors will also receive a Red Cross T-shirt, and thanks to a generous $1 million donation from Amazon, the Red Cross is thanking those who help overcome the blood shortage with a $5 Amazon.com gift card via e-mail.

Hale said Thursday’s drive is another opportunity for the community to help make sure blood is available when it is needed.

“It’s a difficult time for blood collections this summer,” she said. “Summertime always is. That’s why we’re real excited to have the opportunity to be working with Liberal’s first responders to help with this drive. There’s a wealth of opportunities to help.”

The Liberal Battle of the Badges blood drive comes as the Red Cross faces an emergency need for blood donors now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients this summer.

Right now, Hale said blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, and more donations are immediately needed to help replenish the blood supply.

“We’re still struggling a bit,” she said. “The last I heard, we’re still about a three-day supply, when we like to have a five-day supply. We’re hovering around a two-day supply of O blood types. Summer continues to be difficult for blood collections, and that’s why this is such great timing for this drive to happen. Each and every donation is so needed.”

While few donate, Hale said this leaves those who need blood waiting for it, but she did say the number of people waiting does not necessarily go up. An urgent need still exists, though. 

“We know that every two seconds, somebody in our country needs blood, but the fact is only three out of every 100 actually give,” she said. “That’s just not enough people donating. That’s why we look to our loyal donors like those in Liberal to help us out when things get particular tough. We’re really grateful for the timing of this drive with the first responders because the timing is perfect.”

Hale said 20 percent of blood donors are high school and college students, and while the need is always there, the opportunity for these donors to be available is not as regular as it should be.

“When they’re not around, we don’t have access to those donors, so we go into these months – June, July and most of August – without being able to see about 20 percent of our donors,” she said. “That is what precepitates a lot of our needs in the summertime. We’re not seeing enough donors. We urge anybody that’s eligible to please make an appointment and be part of the Battle of the Badges.”

Red Cross Central Plains Blood Services Region Account Manager Hailey Murray said the organization appreciates local emergency workers’ willingness to pitch in to get more donations.

“We are so indebted to our community’s first responders for their continued commitment to helping with blood collection during the summer months,” she said.. “The Battle of the Badges Blood Drive remains an important way for area residents to support these local heroes and help save a life by giving blood.”

Appointments for Thursday’s drive can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and using the sponsor code Liberal.

Hale said making an appointment can make donation times faster.

“We understand that sometimes that’s not possible, but if people can make an appointment, if we know that they’re coming, it’s easier for us to know how many people to plan for,” she said. “A lot of times, it seems like we have people that just walk in, and you’ll have a whole bunch that’ll walk in at the same time. That makes it more difficult for everybody. It takes a little bit longer to go through the process. We would urge people, if they do know their schedule and are able to go and make an appointment, it’s helpful to let us know who’s coming.”

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