Dowagiac fire, police to host third annual Battle of the Badges Oct. 22

Published 8:46 am Tuesday, October 5, 2021

DOWAGIAC — With the Red Cross reporting national blood donations hitting yearly lows in September amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, a local event is seeking to boost those numbers with a friendly competition.

The Dowagiac Public Safety Department and Fire Department are set to host the third annual Battle of the Badges blood drive from 11 a.m. to 4:45 Oct. 22 at the Dowagiac Fire Department, 302 Wolf St.

According to DPSD executive secretary and blood drive coordinator Michell Outlaw, the event began as a way to do something for the holidays without costing members of the community any money.

“We’ve had a huge response from the community,” Outlaw said. “In the past, we’ve had other fire departments come in and [donate] together because it doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t take anything from people’s pockets.”

Those who donate will have the opportunity to donate on behalf of the fire department or public safety department. At the end of the drive, the losing department must make dinner for the winning department.

“The battle of the badges brings both departments together,” Outlaw said. “It’s a nice way to bring the departments together and have a nice family meal.”

The fire department won the first two blood drives by a few votes.

“There is definitely some bragging going on about who has to be in the kitchen and cook,” Outlaw said. “We have fun with it, and it’s always a nice time. It gives us something to look forward to, and it’s for such a good cause.”

Blood donations nationwide have decreased by about 10 percent since August, with some blood types running low to less than a day’s supply, according to a Sept. 27 American Red Cross press release.

“There is such a shortage right now. Even one donation is so important,” Outlaw said. “Every donation can save up to three lives, so we are pushing to get as many people out as possible.”

Outlaw said the donation goal for the event is 50 units of blood. In 2019, the drive reported 60 units of blood donated, with that number decreasing to 49 in 2020. Outlaw said this year, the drive will be accepting walk-ins, which she hopes will increase turnout.

“They’re prepared for that now,” said Outlaw, of the Red Cross. “With the COVID restrictions, they’ll have you download an app that you can do a lot of your medical history right on your app. So that way there is less paperwork shuffling, less exposure.”

The app, RapidPass, can be found at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass. To schedule an appointment, donors can visit redcross.org and enter the sponsor code “DOWAGICFIRE,” or call the Red Cross hotline at 1-(800)-733-2767. Outlaw said donors can also call the fire department at (269) 782-9563 or the public safety department at (269) 782-6689.