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Fire vs. Police: Friendly competition draws blood in Allentown

police and fire blood drive
Miller-Keystone Blood Center
Allentown Firefighters and police are in a friendly competition over who can round up the most blood donations.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Allentown’s first responders are in the midst of a friendly competition.

The city's police and fire departments are going head-to-head to see who can get the most blood donations.

For the first time, the Boots and Badges blood drive has two Allentown departments competing to see who can get more donors into Miller-Keystone Blood Center.

“It helps incentivize people to come out and donate, and it helps bring more awareness to the community."
Dara Gonzalez, community liaison manager, Miller-Keystone Blood Center

"The United States is in the midst of the most critical national blood shortage in history and, as first responders, both fire and police personnel have a unique understanding of the importance of a safe and stable blood supply,” said Dara Gonzalez, the community liaison manager for Miller-Keystone.

Gonzalez said the friendly competition offers people an incentive to donate in honor of one of the two departments.

"It helps chalk up more support," she said. “It helps incentivize people to come out and donate and it helps bring more awareness to the community.

"They see, ‘Wow, if our first responders are really donating,’ then obviously there's a need for it."

The drive began Feb. 4 and will run until Feb. 15.

Those interested in donating blood can do so at one of Miller-Keystone’s four Lehigh Valley locations.

Why it is important

“With the ongoing blood shortage that is occurring throughout the United States, we must do our part to help with this issue," Allentown Police Chief Charles Roca said.

"It is also a worthwhile effort to have our public safety teams [police/fire] take part in a worthy cause that will help patients in their time of need.”

Roca made his donation Thursday morning.

Members of the fire department have been trickling in, as well.

"It will continue to provide a much-needed push for donations.”
Allentown Fire Chief Efrain Agosto

"It will continue to provide a much-needed push for donations,” Allentown Fire Chief Efrain Agosto said.

“I believe that it is helpful when the drive is backed up by those in public safety that are tasked with managing emergencies on a daily basis.

"Individuals involved in emergent situations such as accidents or a burn victim may end up requiring a blood donation, and that is why it is important to be a part of this push."

What’s up for grabs, you ask? The winner gets a trophy and bragging rights.

"As much as I want to believe that our team will win, in the end, it does not matter who wins the competition," Agosto said. "I want both teams to win by attracting donors through this friendly competition.”

Roca said, "I want our police department to be successful in this competition, but I think the true winners are those — regardless of affiliation to police or fire — who take the time to donate and help the cause of reducing the current blood donation shortage.”

Where to donate

People can schedule appointments and give a code to select either department.

“These donations save the lives of not only accident victims, but also cancer patients, premature babies, surgery and transplant patients and individuals with inherited blood disorders such as Thalassemia or Sickle Cell Disease,” Gonzalez said.

Only 3% of the population donates blood, according to Miller-Keystone.

The blood center said it plans to hold more competitions this year.

Miller-Keystone Blood Center donation sites are:

Bethlehem: 1465 Valley Center Parkway

Allentown: 1255 S. Cedar Crest Blvd., Suite 1300; Hamilton
Five City Center, 740 Hamilton St., Suite 120

Easton: 3765 Nicholas St., Suite B