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The war of words has begun, as Wichita and Sedgwick County firefighters and law enforcement try to pull out a win in the Battle of the Badges Community Blood Drive.
Starting Thursday, donors can cast their vote for their favorite team through Jan. 1.
"There is no doubt in my mind that without the work of American Red Cross blood services and volunteer donors across the state, blood would not be available when it's needed most," said Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams. "I definitely encourage voters to vote law. Vote law. Don't vote fire - vote law. That's the way to go."
Donations can be made at the Wichita Blood Center, located at 707 N. Main. On Dec. 28, the blood drive is also available at Wichita Fire Station 6 at 1010 N. 143rd St. and station 21, 2110 N. 135th St. W.
Firefighters hold a 9-8 lead over their counterparts. Law enforcement won last year's event, but may have used unfair tactics, said Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp.
"Do us all a favor and go out and donate blood, donate every two months, and during this holiday season, vote fire - and I'm going to tell you why," Crisp said. "The cops, they cheated last year. They cheated - it was for a good reason, and I get that - but they're cheaters.
"So what you really need to do is focus on those of us in the fire department who are wholesome people and please vote fire."
Central Plains Blood Services Region CEO Terri Dunaway said the holidays make it tougher to get donations because of busy families and schools and businesses closing. However, the need for blood does not go away.
The goal is set for 1,100 pints of blood and 260 units of platelets. Donors need to be 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent, and weigh 110 pounds. Donors receive a 2012 Battle of the Badges T-shirt and are entered in contest drawings.
Wichita Fire Department Lt. Chris Flemming said the No. 1 reason people do not give blood is because they are not asked to. Both sides hope this changes that.
"It's a gift that you cannot order online. You can't go to a department store and buy it," said Sedgwick County Sheriff Bob Hinshaw. "It's something that literally comes from your own heart, and it can make a difference to a lot of different people."