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Cops and firefighters out for blood

WORTHINGTON -- Members of the Nobles County Sheriff's Office and the Worthington Police Department are out for blood. So are members of the Worthington Fire Department and Worthington Ambulance crew.

No, it isn't a local attack of zombies or a horror film -- it is once again time for the annual "Heroes Behind the Badges" blood drive.

The Community Blood Bank (CBB) bloodmobile will be present from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Sanford Medical Center Worthington parking lot, and the public is encouraged to donate blood and designate their donation to the department of their choice. All donors will receive a Subway lunch, which is sponsored by Sanford Medical Center Worthington. In the end, the department credited with the most blood donations will receive a trophy -- and bragging rights.

Since the "Heroes" program started in 2006, the wins are divided equally at two apiece. This year will be a tie breaker.

"Law enforcement, fire department and EMS works well together every day -- except this one," said Worthington Police Captain Chris Dybevick. "We're going to win."

Dybevick said he has been handing out flyers and trying to drum up business, but Worthington Fire Chief Rick Von Holdt and his crew are doing the same thing.

"Last year we were going to demand a recount," Von Holdt joked. "Right now we're out campaigning pretty hard to get people to vote for us."

According to statistics from the CBB, only five percent of the population donates blood, even though eight out of 10 people will require blood or blood products in their lifetime.

Ken Versteeg, CBB Executive Director, said summer is a tough time for blood donations.

"People are on vacation or travelling, and they forget to take the time to donate," he explained. "And we also see more trauma in the ER because of vacations and travelling."

Just in the past couple of weeks, blood usage has increased by 20 percent or more, he added.

"We had a couple of instances of critical appeals," Versteeg stated. "Right now, we're teetering on the fine line between 'critical' and 'barely holding our own.'"

Since the "Heroes" drive began, there has been an average of approximately 100 donors for each event, which Versteeg said is good attendance.

Dybevick, who is also a member of the Worthington Fire Department, said cops, firefighters and ambulance crews alike are all pleased that community members donate blood for the event in the name of their favored entity.

"We take pride in getting people in," he said. "But I'm still going to donate for law enforcement. I want to win, and we have a very good chance at it."

"Well, they need all they help they can get," Von Holdt stated.

The "Heroes" program, Von Holdt added, is all in good fun.

"I didn't realize when we started this contest that it was one of the bigger (blood drives) they have," he said. "I know the need for blood is there and it takes a lot of us to fill it. There is strength in numbers."

Blood donated through the CBB stays in the area and with the convenience of the bloodmobile the process only takes about 25 minutes. There is a short interview regarding medical history, the donation process takes five to 10 minutes, and a short refresh period rounds out the experience. Donors are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids before and after donating. The human body responds to the loss of one pint of blood by signaling bone marrow to produce new red blood cells, a process that takes a few weeks. The liquid portion of the blood will be back to normal within less than 24 hours.

Donors must be 17 years of age or older (or 16 years old with a signed parent consent form), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good general health. Identification is required. Walk-ins are welcome, or an appointment can be made by calling (507) 372-3319.