The Battle of the Badges rages on for the 9th year

This week marks the beginning of a week-long contest where police departments, fire departments, EMS crews, and other first responders go head to head in a competition called the Battle of the Badges.

“It’s a program where we encourage people to come out to an American Red Cross program, give blood and vote for the first responder unit that they would like to see honored for their service,” said American Red Cross Account Manager Gwen Hunter.

When donors go to blood drives to give blood they can vote for the department they want to see win.

For the most part, participants said it’s a friendly competition, but according to Hunter, it’s a rivalry with a deeper meaning.

“It just reminds us of the sacrifices that our first responders make all the time to help keep us safe and they are often the ones that see the need for blood.”

Hunter said The Battle of the Badges falling during a time when many Americans begin reflecting on a tragedy that happened on U.S. soil (9/11) is no coincidence

“We all felt so helpless that there was nothing that we could but something that we could do would be to give blood to people who were so terribly injured in that event,” said Hunter.

“Every time you go on a wreck or anytime you go on any type of injury where someone’s lost blood or if you have a relative in the hospital that had surgery and requires blood then you’re reminded of it,” said Johnson City Master Police Officer Greg Howell.

Howell is participating in this year’s competition.

“Every time you give blood it saves 3 people and I always imagined maybe my blood would save a kid somewhere,” said Howell.

Last year the Johnson City Police Department won the battle, and they are vying for the crown once again.

“I think the police departments going to beat them, beat everybody else,” said Howell.

Hunter said she enjoys watching the friendly competition. But as long as everyone comes out and gives blood, the entire community wins.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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