The third Battle of the Badges blood drive competition kicked off Friday at Tower Square in downtown Lincoln.
The blood drive, hosted by the Nebraska Community Blood Bank, pitted the Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln Fire and Rescue in a head-to-head competition to see who can solicit the most blood donations from the public.
Blood bank spokeswoman Erica Busta said the red-and-blue-themed blood drive has been successful in previous years because of enthusiastic support from the community.
"I think everyone likes a competition, and people in this community are always willing to support their departments," she said.
Friday's event kicked off a blood drive that goes through Aug. 28. This is a time of year when the blood bank reports having fewer donations.
Busta said that's because many blood drives take place at schools and colleges, places where summer break puts a hamper on blood donation efforts. She also said the hot, late-summer weather keeps people from stopping at blood banks to donate, so the partnership with LPD and LFR is important.
"They're always the first ones on the scene of an accident, and we support people who are in those accidents with blood donations, so they know how important it is," Busta said.
LFR is the two-time reigning champion of the blood drive. Spokeswoman Nancy Crist said all the credit goes to the department's community supporters.
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"Our people just always show up for Team Red, we have so much support in the community," she said. "But we really do appreciate all the camaraderie and the good sports at LPD, though we do have a couple tricks up our sleeves to win this one again."
Officer Angela Sands said the strategy for pushing Team Blue over the top is simple.
"We've got better swag," she said, holding sunglasses and color-changing mood bracelets.
The rest of the competition's blood drives:
Aug. 2, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. — School resource officer summer reunion blood drive at Antelope Park.
Aug. 13, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. — LPD/public building commission blood drive.
Aug. 22, 2:30-6:30 p.m. — Battle of the Badges at Sam’s Club South.
Aug. 28, 3-6:00 p.m. — LFR Station No. 1 blood drive.