Deputies, staff, volunteers, and community members joined forces Tuesday January 18 to bare arms and give blood for the 5th Annual Battle of the Badges Blood Drive.
The drive, a friendly competition between members of several law enforcement and government agencies including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, local fire and police departments, the US Attorney’s Office, even the FBI and Secret Service, challenged rivals to score the most blood donated based on a percentage of participants to community size.
The Red Cross’ Bloodmobile set up shop at the station, where Deputy Jorge Valdivia encouraged and welcomed donors.
“This is my second time having the drive here,” Valdivia said. “It’s something I can do to keep motivated and to help,'' he noted, adding that some of the station staff were a little nervous about needles, but he was “working on them.” According to Valdivia, donors become more willing after lunch, during which time he expected a couple of sergeants to make the visit to the Bloodmobile.
Because CV is a smaller station, Valdivia depended on community involvement to make the drive a success.
“Our station volunteers all donate. They take turns covering the front desk and coming out,'' he said.
While there are usually 50 personnel working at the station, Valdivia expected 15 to 20 to donate. At noon, the Bloodmobile had already hosted 11 donors and expected about 18 to 20 more. “That’s a great turn out for a community of our size,” Valdivia said.
“I don’t always have time to volunteer,“ said CV Sheriffs Station Dispatcher Richard Engersbach. “This is something you can do to help.”
Deputy Randy Forney has been donating since the age of 16 and is inspired by the people in the department and those he meets through his work to give blood. “I do it every time they’re here,” he said. “It’s something so simple to do to save a life.”
While 38 percent of people nationwide are eligible to donate blood, 80 percent of people will at some time receive blood. The Red Cross does a careful screening of all donors, including questioning about recent travel or illnesses that could prohibit donation.
Susan Josephson, an Account Manager for the Red Cross, explained that once blood is drawn, it is tested, processed and stored in the Red Cross’s regional facility located in Pomona.
“From there is sent out to hospitals when needed,” she said.
The process takes about an hour, from initial paperwork to cookies and juice. While reclining comfortably, donors squeeze a rubber ball to aid blood flow and listen to Simon & Garfunkel to calm nerves. Approximately one pint of blood - enough to save three lives - is gathered from each donor in seven to 10 minutes, after which, donors relax with a variety of snack and beverage options.
“Oreos are the guy cookies. They go for them first,” noted R.N. Supervisor Lani Ross. A regular on the Bloodmobile, Ross sits with donors and helps them through the process. “The police and sheriffs are always wonderful donors. They’re always delightful,” she said.
Susan Hoge, Principal of the Monte Vista Elementary School in La Crescenta, gave blood as a way to support the local station, by whom she is inspired and for whom she is grateful about their work during the Station Fire evacuations.
“I’m here for the guys with the badges,” she said, “They basically saved the community.”
Red Cross Technician Manny Aquino explained that donors who gave today could give again in four months.
Once screened, donors can also opt to register with the Red Cross, meaning they may be asked to donate when supplies run low or their blood type is especially needed.
Besides snacks and gratitude, participants in the Battle of the Badges also received a t-shirt, tickets to a Clippers game, and the opportunity to win a trip from Red Cross’ monthly donor raffle. The battle’s winners will be announced soon, but those who gave blood are already winners as are the recipients they’ll serve.
For more information and to find out when the Bloodmobile will be visiting a location near you, visit the Red Cross’s website www.redcrossblood.org.