Men and women in uniform save lives every day, and on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, regular individuals can join their ranks as blood donors.

Men and women in uniform save lives every day, and on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, regular individuals can join their ranks as blood donors.

It’s all part of this year’s Battle of the Badges, a competition between McPherson's emergency response departments — police, fire, medical — to see which can drum up the most support to supply blood for those in need.

“The thought of an officer or anyone bleeding to death scares the heck out of me, and I hate giving blood, but I do it for the cause,” said McPherson Police Lt. Jerry Montagne, coordinator of McPherson’s event of the national campaign. “I’m not a big fan of needles but I’ll do it for the cause. I’ve never had a bad experience donating blood yet. Sure you hear horror stories, but mine have always been good and positive.”

The American Red Cross will take donations from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 31 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 119 N. Elm St. in McPherson. Participating donors can dedicate their donations to a local emergency service, and the service with the most votes wins bragging rights and a trophy for the year. The McPherson Police Department has won the competition for the past three years, mostly due to Montagne’s recruiting practices.

“It’s a fun challenge between the departments to get the most people to come in and donate, and I like recruiting people. I try to recruit year-round since it can be hard to find donors, but a lot of times you’ll ask someone who’s never done it and they’ll step up and do it,” Montagne said about personally recruiting 58 of the 187 donors last year. “This is one of the biggest blood drives for the Red Cross and it does pretty good. Sometimes we overwhelm the workers with all the people lining up to give.”

According to the American Red Cross, more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10 percent do each year.

However, one donation can help about three people.

“Blood is down nationally, so I hope we have a good turnout,” Montagne said. “What a great way to give back to your community — I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Donations can take even less time this year, as the American Red Cross recently launched its RapidPass option. Donors can complete the health questionnaire online on the day of their donations and can either print out or display the form on a mobile device.

To learn more about donating blood and eligibility, visit http://www.redcrossblood.org or http://www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass, or call 620-241-2406.