Fire, police departments plan annual blood drive

There’s a battle looming on the horizon and both the Minot Fire Department and the Minot Police Department need to be prepared and ready to fight. However, it’s not quite as dramatic as that because the battle is actually Battle of the Badges, an annual blood drive open to the public that provides friendly competition between the two departments.

This year’s Battle of the Badges will be held May 28, 29 and 30 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Sleep Inn and Suites. Jennifer Charbonneaux, center director for United Blood Services, said there will be more demonstrations at this year’s event. They’re trying to get the bomb robot from the police department, she added, but there will also be hands-on booths featuring equipment from the fire and police departments and hopefully a tug-of-war competition between the firefighters and police officers. Additionally, Charbonneaux said there will be food, prizes, music, dancing and fun and everyone who donates will receive a free t-shirt.

“We’re hoping to break the 320 donor mark this year, so we need to see over a hundred people a day,” Charbonneaux said. “If you’ve never donated blood, this is the place to do it. It’s sort of the blood donation Super Bowl.”

Battle of the Badges started as a way for those who serve in the community to have positive community exposure, Charbonneaux explained. It also started because firefighters and police officers are the first responders and the ones who see accidents and save lives, she said. “This is a way to showcase them and thank them for everything they do.”

Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate in the Battle of the Badges. Charbonneaux said people are asked to let the person at the registration table know which department they want their donation to count for in the competition. The event is primarily a walk-in blood drive, she added, but people can also make an appointment by calling 1-800-863-9079. “It’s a really great time to come in with family and friends,” Charbonneaux said. “We’ll also see squadrons from the Minot Air Force Base or groups of employees. They can all encourage and support one another if it’s someone’s first time donating.”

Battle of the Badges is a way for United Blood Services to highlight the first responders to accidents, Charbonneaux said. It’s also a way to strengthen and develop the relationships that people have with them and encourages new people to donate blood, she continued.

This particular blood drive has been taking place since 2008, but Charbonneaux said their best year was 2011. “In 2011 we collected the most blood, which was surprising because it took place one week after the alarms sounded,” she added. “It was great to be there at that time with such an outpouring of support.”

Charbonneaux thought Battle of the Badges has been a popular event due to media attention. She also thought it’s successful because people think it’s a worthwhile cause, there’s food and fun at the event and it’s more public than most blood drives are.

“Most people enjoy the camaraderie from Battle of the Badges,” Charbonneaux said. “We find people who will sit and visit for awhile after they have donated and that’s great. We want that and for them to connect with their community.”